Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: State Senate Special Election Win Elates Republicans

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: State Senate Special Election Win Elates Republicans

Article excerpt

It was not an ordinary election.

The importance of Republican Mike Schulz's victory in the special election for the state Senate District 38 seat is indicated by the fact more than $700,000 was raised by the two candidates, much of it coming in the last few weeks of the campaign.

That equals about $60 for each of the 11,867 votes cast in the election

Schulz, a farmer from Altus who defeated Democrat Robbie Kerr of Altus, raised $310,000 and got 6,740 votes. His opponent, the widow of the late state Sen. Robert Kerr, received $397,000 and got 5,127 votes.

Desperate Senate Democrats fearing further erosion of their narrow majority pulled out all the stops to get Kerr's widow elected. Republicans matched those efforts.

Schulz's win gave Republicans some important momentum going into the November election, but it was not totally unexpected. He had planned to run for the seat because the late senator, whose death earlier this year triggered the special election, was term limited and could not seek re-election had he lived.

Because the current term expires this year, Schulz will need to file in June and run for re-election in November for a new four- year term. That raises the question of whether there will be a rematch. It is possible, but his margin of victory may deter the opposition.

Schulz got 57 percent of the vote to 43 percent for Kerr. That is a double-digit margin of 14 percent, which by any standards is a decisive win. Voter sentiment is not likely to change much in the next six months.

Democrats may find it difficult to wage another massive financial effort again so soon in the face of such a rout.

National organizations from both parties got involved. Schulz received help from many prominent Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, and a prerecorded telephone message from President George W. Bush sent to registered voters in the district.

There were similarities in the two candidates. Hoping to appeal to the agriculture vote, Kerr endorsed lawsuit reform and elimination of the estate tax, both of which are part of the Republican agenda and supported by Schulz. …

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