Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Beutler Running Old-Fashioned Campaign against Lucas

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Beutler Running Old-Fashioned Campaign against Lucas

Article excerpt

BINGER -- Hitting main streets from Lookeba to Camargo, Democrat Randy Beutler is trying to win the 6th Congressional District race against incumbent Republican Frank Lucas the old-fashioned way.

With Lucas stuck in Washington for much of the past two weeks, Beutler was on the road, frantically searching for votes in a district that has had a tendency to stick with the incumbent unless, as one local political sage put it, "you really mess up."

While Lucas was working on an appropriations bill on Oct. 19, Beutler was shaking hands in 11 towns in Democrat-prone Caddo County, including Lookeba, Binger, Hinton, Cyril, Apache, Carnegie, Fort Cobb and Eakley.

Lucas managed to get back to his Oklahoma City headquarters the next day and talked to his aides about a main street tour of Watonga in Blaine County, but decided to head on to Guymon, a five-hour drive, to appear at a forum with his Democratic rival.

Beutler, in an easy-going style, strikes a chord with residents of Binger and Hinton as he takes aim at the Freedom to Farm Act that Lucas supported and promises to work for expanded health care and protect Social Security.

"I think Frank Lucas is a nice guy, but I don't think we've got a congressman aggressive enough to go up there and fight the battles we need to fight for rural and urban Oklahoma," Beutler tells employees at a home health care facility in Binger.

About 30 miles to the north, across Interstate 40, a check with main street merchants reveals that Lucas remains popular in Watonga. Tim Curtin, publisher of the Watonga Republican, guesses that Lucas could carry the county by 75 percent.

"I'll probably vote for Lucas," says shop owner Barbara Smola. She said her husband, Steve, had worked with Lucas on programs to benefit cattlemen and "he's tried to help our people out."

Although he's being outspent by Lucas, who started running television ads about two weeks before Beutler, the 39-year-old Democratic candidate is encouraged by the reception he has received in whirlwind trips through the district.

He and his supporters typically arrive in town in a caravan, honking horns and waving at onlookers. Then Beutler heads for co- ops, feed stores, coffee shops or other meeting places before walking the main street.

"We've gone from people saying I don't have a chance, to I may make this race interesting, to you better watch this guy," Beutler says.

On Monday, Oct. 25, Lucas was back in Washington while the Beutler caravan rolled through several cities and towns, including Seiling, Vici, Camargo, Leedy, Hammon, Butler, Foss, Clinton, Arapaho and Custer City.

The Lucas camp concedes that Beutler has had more time for face- to-face campaigning, but believes the incumbent has a reservoir of goodwill built up from countless town meetings over the years.

Lucas, 40, was elected in 1994 and is seeking his fourth term. …

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