Republicans are boldly predicting a near sweep of the big
prizes in the 1994 Oklahoma elections, but Democrats say they
will at least hold their own.
With the end of the filing period for legislative, state and
congressional offices, the chairmen of the Republican and
Democratic parties were asked to assess their candidates'
As expected, they had widely divergent views.
Clinton Key, Republican leader, said the GOP had an excellent
chance of capturing the governor's chair, a second U.S. Senate
seat and at least four _ and possibly five _ congressional
In addition, Key predicted good gains in both the state House
and Senate and the election of more state officeholders than ever
"This is without a doubt our greatest opportunity and the most
important election that we have ever had," Key said. "I sense a
great Republican year."
Hogwash, says Mike Turpen, Key's Democratic counterpart.
Turpen said Democrats would not only retain the U.S. Senate seat
that David Boren is relinquishing, but would hold on to the
governor's chair and regain their 4-2 advantage in the U.S.
The reason Oklahomans will continue to support Democrats for
the U.S. Senate and House, Turpen said, "is that most politics is
local." In this case, it means that Democrats will be perceived
as "more effective in getting things done" such as saving Tinker
Air Force Base, Turpen said.
Turpen argues that Democrat Dave McCurdy, who is leaving his
U.S. House post to run for the Senate, is the odds-on favorite in
the Senate race. McCurdy faces a challenge from Corporation
Commissioner Cody Graves in the primary.
On the Republican side, it will be a two-way battle between
U.S. Rep. Jim Inhofe of Tulsa and state Rep. Tony Caldwell of
Oklahoma City. Inhofe is giving up his 1st Congressional District
seat to make the race.
Sharing the spotlight in the fall election will be the
Republican and Democratic battles for governor.
Democratic incumbent David Walters is not seeking re-election,
and Republicans think the controversy he generated during his
term will tend to make many voters turn to the GOP nominee.
The wild card in the race is Democrat-turned-independent Wes
Watkins, who is likely to hurt Democrats in some areas.
The Democratic candidates include Lt. Gov. Jack Mildren of
Oklahoma City, state Sen. Bernice Shedrick of Stillwater and
state Rep. Danny Williams of Seminole. Republicans include former
Justice Department official Frank Keating of Tulsa and state Sen.
Jerry Pierce of Bartlesville.
Key says adverse reaction to some of the policies of
Democratic President Bill Clinton, including Clinton's health
care program, will be a factor in GOP congressional victories.
Republicans have sewed up one congressional seat already,
since no Democrats filed against incumbent Ernest Istook, R-Warr
Acres, in the 5th Congressional District. But Istook does face an
independent in the general election.
The GOP also counts the 6th Congressional District as a safe
seat. Former state Rep. Frank Lucas of Cheyenne won the post this
year in a special election. Three Democrats filed against him,
but they are not well known.
Democratic Rep. Bill Brewster appears to be in good shape to
win re-election in the 3rd Congressional District against two
little-known opponents, one Democrat and one Republican. …