United States Senate race one of six national offices on ballot

Monday, July 7th 2008, 1:25 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

Some congressional candidates in Oklahoma are running out of habit. Some say they are on a mission from God. Others just want to make a statement.

Almost two dozen candidates are running in Oklahoma for the U.S. Senate and five congressional posts.

Most of them have one thing in common: scant chance of winning against well-financed and entrenched incumbents.

"To beat an incumbent you either have to have an angry electorate or lots of money, or both," said Keith Gaddie, University of Oklahoma political professor.

For some candidates, "running for office is a hobby," while "others really think that lightning is going to strike," Gaddie said.


U.S. Senate

Sen. James Inhofe, with millions of dollars in his war chest, is heavily favored to win the July 29 Republican primary against one perennial candidate and two newcomers.

Inhofe is seeking his third full term in the Senate. He has already mounted a massive television campaign depicting him as a stubborn advocate for Oklahoma's interests.

On the Democratic side, state Sen. Andrew Rice of Oklahoma City is the favorite over Jim Rogers of Midwest City, another perennial candidate.

Rice says the war in Iraq was poorly conceived and executed and has detracted from the war on terror. It's a personal issue for Rice, whose brother was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Rogers has run two times previously for the Senate, with his campaigns consisting mostly of standing beside a road and holding up a sign to get the attention of passing motorists.

Inhofe's other primary opponents are two newcomers -- Dennis Lopez of Thackerville and Ted Ryals of Oklahoma City -- and Evelyn L. Rogers, a perennial candidate from Tulsa.

Independent Stephen P. Wallace of Tulsa also is running for the Senate.

Lopez, when he filed in June, declared that God had "laid it on my life" to run for the post. The 48-year-old part-time Baptist preacher said he was running to "put God first in our nation," and if Inhofe shared that goal, "then we run together."

Republican Senate candidate Evelyn Rogers, a librarian at Oral Roberts University, is making her fifth straight run for federal office.

Her mother, Tennie Rogers, previously ran three times for president, simultaneously running for Congress one year. In 1992, Tennie Rogers got on ballots in nine states, the most of any woman who ever ran for president.


U.S. House of Representatives

In the 1st Congressional District, businesswoman Georgiana W. Oliver, a Tulsa Democrat, hopes to get by primary foe Mark Manley and take on incumbent Republican John Sullivan in November.

"I'm a serious candidate. I'm looking forward to an exciting race. I think residents of the 1st Congressional District are looking for stronger leadership," Oliver said.

Oliver, 41, has hired Don Hoover, veteran political consultant. She says she has a goal of a $1 million campaign budget and is prepared to spend some of her own money.

Manley is an Iraq war protest leader whose Web site biography declared he will run "a grass-roots campaign with little or no money."

Manley is soliciting online donations, however. "I didn't mean literally no money, of course," he said, while doubting he will have enough funds for a television ad effort.

Sullivan is running for a fourth term in Congress. His primary opponent is Fran Moghaddam, an insurance broker who was born in Iran and has lived in Tulsa for 30 years. Moghaddam ran against Sullivan two years ago, getting about 4 percent of the vote.

She stresses her Christian faith and says her desire in running is to "give back to my God-chosen home."

In the 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Dan Boren faces newcomer Kevin Coleman of Grove in the Democratic primary. Boren, the state's only Democratic congressman, is an overwhelming favorite to meet Republican Raymond J. Wickson of Okmulgee in the general election. Wickson has twice run unsuccessfully for Congress.

In the 3rd District, Rep. Frank Lucas is running for an eighth term. He is unopposed in the primary, but faces Democrat Frankie Robbins of Medford and independent Forrest Michael of Cherokee in the general election.

Robbins vows a determined campaign, but is a newcomer running against an incumbent who has averaged getting 69 percent of the vote in the last five general elections.

"I think he can be beat because people are ready for a change," Robbins said. "He has been in office for 14 years. He really hasn't done much. He hasn't done much harm but he hasn't done much good, either."

Rep. Tom Cole is seeking a fourth term in the 4th District of south-central and southwestern Oklahoma. He will face newcomer Blake Cummings, a Democrat, and David E. Joyce, an independent, in November.

Cummings, a self-employed oil and gas consultant from Pauls Valley, has been active in Democratic politics, but is making his first try at public office.

In the 5th District, Mary Fallin is running for a second term and also did not draw a primary opponent.

Two Democratic candidates are running, math teacher Bert Smith and newcomer Stephen L. Perry. Smith lost in two previous campaigns for the post.