Friday, September 15, 2006

NFL Week 2

Current score: 8-8 (50%)

1. Lions (0-1) at Bears (1-0)
2. Bills (0-1) at Dolphins (0-1)
3. Texans (0-1) at Colts (1-0)
4. Panthers (0-1) at Vikings (1-0)
5. Raiders (0-1) at Ravens (1-0)
6. Buccaneers (0-1) at Falcons (1-0)
7. Saints (1-0) at Packers (0-1)
8. Browns (0-1) at Bengals (1-0)
9. Giants (0-1) at Eagles (1-0)
10. Cardinals (1-0) at Seahawks (1-0)
11. Rams (1-0) at 49'ers (0-1)
12. Patriots (1-0) at Jets (1-0)
13. Titants (0-1) at Chargers (1-0)
14. Chiefs (0-1) at Broncos (0-1)
15. Redskins (0-1) at Cowboys (0-1)
16. Steelers (1-0) at Jaguars (1-0)

Oklahoma Governor Race

Race of the Day

September 15, 2006
53 Days Until Election Day

Oklahoma Governor

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Red State (South, at least that’s how I think it should be classified based on the state’s cultural identity)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

In 2002, Democrat Brad Henry may have been the luckiest politician in America. He had been considered a heavy underdog to Republican Steve Largent, but in a campaign where Largent committed multiple campaign gaffes, and very importantly where an additional Republican, running as an Independent, captured 14 percent of the vote, Henry was elected Governor with just a 43 percent plurality and a victory by less than one percentage point.

Considering that lucky break, Republicans had high hopes of beating a vulnerable incumbent in such a staunchly conservative state in 2006, but the centrist Henry has been very popular as Governor during his first term and is another example of why voters may like more ideological moderation in their executives than they demand from legislators. The GOP in recent federal elections has also dominated the Sooner State while Democrats continue to often win statewide positions for the right to serve in Oklahoma City.

Few top notch Republicans were initially willing to tangle with the popular Henry, but in what was somewhat of a surprise development, Congressman Ernest Istook, a House veteran who enjoyed massive support in his own elections, jumped into the race and suddenly the GOP believed they had reason for optimism. Officially clinching his party’s nomination was still a bit of a challenge for Istook though, as he faced two credible opponents, including one who spent freely from his own pockets to run negative ads against the front-runner. When the primary took place though, Istook scored somewhat better than expected and easily avoided the need to face a run-off election for the Republican nod.

It may have some scratching their heads why Istook gave up a very safe House seat and an acquiring amount of seniority in Congress for such an uphill race against a popular incumbent. While voters do not seem to dislike the Republican personally or ideologically, Henry has been leading his opponent in the polls by over 20 points in recent months. That is a remarkable turnaround for a Democrat who was basically snuck in the back door in his initial election. Henry, who can perhaps fairly be described as a conservative Democrat is enjoying a good amount of crossover support from the other party.

Those polls do not yet show Henry consistently breaking the magic 60 percent mark, generally considered the benchmark to be considered “safe” and the fact that Oklahoma leans so heavily to the right means that it is too premature to classify Henry in that way. Still though, he is an extremely solid favorite to win reelection and it would take something very dramatic, such as the Governor going on television and proclaiming, “Hook ‘em Horns” for this race to turn around.

Come next year, Henry will begin a second and final term as Governor and Istook will be a prime candidate to receive a Presidential nomination to some sort of federal office or Ambassadorship.

Istook campaign link:

2006 Governor races predicted thus far: 10 D, 16 R
Post-election total of Governors predicted thus far: 18 D, 22 R