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Rep. Carson to run for open Oklahoma seat (and Watts won't)
The Hill ^ | 10-8 | Sarita Chourey

Posted on 10/08/2003 2:09:19 PM PDT by ForOurFuture

Rep. Brad Carson (D-Okla.) will enter the race to succeed senior Republican Sen. Don Nickles, who announced Tuesday that he won’t seek a fifth term.

Carson plans to announce his exploratory committee next week, according to a Democratic source.

Rep. Ernest Istook (R-Okla.) is also expected to run for Nickles’ seat, while Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys (R) and Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) are possible contenders.

Nickles, 54, chairman of the Budget Committee and the former GOP whip, decided not to seek reelection even though his GOP colleagues and the White House wanted him to stay, and he was considered an odds-on favorite.

Nickles was elected to the Senate at age 31 after serving two years in the Oklahoma state Senate. He made his announcement at a news conference Tuesday at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

“It’s been a pleasure to serve with four presidents, seven majority leaders,” said Nickles, who will serve the remaining 15 months of his term.

He added, “I’ve never considered the Senate as a lifetime position.”

Nickles, a native of Ponca City whose family owns a machine-tool company, said he always intended to return to the private sector.

“Frankly, I’m surprised I’m in the Senate for 24 years. I thought we might do a couple of terms. I was kind of surprised we did three terms, real surprised we did four terms, and then I was sorely tempted to do five.

“I told [my wife] Linda I didn’t want to be a lifer. I always expected to return to the private sector.”

Nickles said he will remain involved in Oklahoma issues and state politics and will be “very active” in the 2004 presidential campaign. He said he will campaign against Democratic candidate Howard Dean, the former Vermont governor, because of his opposition to President Bush’s tax cut proposals.

Istook spokeswoman Micah Swafford said Tuesday that Istook is “definitely very interested” in running for Nickles’ seat. She added that the sixth term congressman “will be talking to Oklahomans in the coming weeks about entering the race.”

Brad Luna, Carson’s communications director, sidestepped questions, saying: “This is obviously Senator Nickles’ day. After 24 years of service, Senator Nickles gets one day that’s focused on him and his accomplishments.”

Luna said Carson “believes there will be a time and place for politics, and he will gather with his family and give lengthy, prayerful consideration about the way that he can continue to serve our great state and its people.”

Carson, a two-term, centrist Democrat, is the only Native American tribal member in the House.

Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R) who also wasmentioned as a possible candidate, said Thursday in a statement that he will not seek the seat. But he credited Nickles with sparking his own interest in public service and the GOP.

Watts, who retired in 2002, is chairman of Fannie Mae Policy Focus and the political action committee GOPAC and founder of J.C. Watts Co., a consulting firm.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said that a primary race between Democrats Carson and Edmonson would be “a very good race” and that “it’s probably what Republicans would love to happen.”

He called both “excellent candidates,” but said that Carson “has done the most in laying the groundwork.”

Nickles was the first GOP senator to call for then-Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) to step down after his racially charged comments at Sen. Strom Thurmond’s (R-S.C.) 100th birthday party.

Nickles joins Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) as the second Republican senator to announce his retirement this year.

Democratic Sens. Fritz Hollings (S.C.), John Edwards (N.C.) and Zell Miller (Ga.) have also announced they will vacate their Senate seats next year. Democratic Sens. Bob Graham (Fla.), who ended his presidential campaign yesterday, and John Breaux (La.) have not yet announced if they will run for reelection in 2004.

Senate Republicans hold a 51-48 majority, with Independent Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont usually lining up with the Democratic minority.

The last open seat in Oklahoma was in 1994, when Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) beat Rep. Dave McCurdy (D).


TOPICS: Oklahoma; Campaign News; U.S. Senate
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 10/08/2003 2:09:19 PM PDT by ForOurFuture
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To: PhiKapMom; Coop; AuH2ORepublican; Impy; Pubbie; GraniteStateConservative; rewrite; JohnnyZ; ...
Ping.
2 posted on 10/08/2003 2:24:46 PM PDT by ForOurFuture
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3 posted on 10/08/2003 2:26:08 PM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

To: William Creel
Yeah we need some Oklahoma experts to fill us in on these two seats. If we do take Carson's seat, than Oklahoma goes all GOP in House seats, I think.
5 posted on 10/08/2003 2:37:37 PM PDT by nospinzone (What does it say on the bottom of Coke bottles at the DNC? It says "Open Other End.")
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To: nospinzone; William Creel; ForOurFuture
"Yeah we need some Oklahoma experts to fill us in on these two seats."


Well, I'm no Oklahoma expert, but I can tell you that Istook's seat is safely Republican, and Carson's seat gave Bush like 52% or 53% of the vote in 2000 but is usually heavily Democratic in state races. Carson's seat was drawn by the GOP (whose plan was implemented by a federal court after the RAT legislature couldn't override Governor Keating's veto) to take in most of the Democratic areas in heavily-Native American NE OK (which were in Carson's old CD, which used to be held by Republican Tom Coburn) and in the rural area of SE OK (which were in Republican Wes Watkins' CD). Watkins, a party switcher who was the only Republican who could carry SE OK, had already announced his retirement, and the GOP wanted to make sure it kept its other 4 seats after the state lost 1 seat following the 2000 Census. If Watkins or Coburn run for Carson's House seat, they would probably be favored, but otherwise a moderate-to-conservative Democrat in the Carson mold would be favored to hold the seat.

If Carson gets the RAT nomination, we're gonna have to hustle to win the Senate seat, even with OK's Republicanism and with Bush at the top of the ballot. Istook is a solid conservative, but he's from OK City, and this race will be won in the rural areas. I'm quite dissappointed that J.C. Watts isn't running, since not only would it be great to have the only black Senator be a Republican (which we may still be able to accomplish with Herman Cain in Georgia), but because as a Congressman Watts ran very strongly in SW OK, a swing area that went for the RATs in the 2002 gubernatorial election. Governor Keating may be a better candidate than Istook, but I don't know if he's interested.

All in all, I wish Nickles had stayed in the Senate. The only bright side to this is that it allows Rick Santorum to be the sole conservative vying for the majority leader position in the Senate once Frist steps down.
6 posted on 10/08/2003 3:01:06 PM PDT by AuH2ORepublican (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: ForOurFuture
Carson, a two-term, centrist Democrat, is the only Native American tribal member in the House.

The above-mentioned Tom Cole is a Chickasaw Nation member . . . apparently it means something different to be a "tribal member"??? Or have they just not updated their description of Carson since Cole was elected? The Hill gets a bit confused occasionally.

7 posted on 10/08/2003 3:06:36 PM PDT by JohnnyZ (RED SOX WIN! We had 'em all the way)
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To: AuH2ORepublican
Governor Keating may be a better candidate than Istook, but I don't know if he's interested.

I think we're better off missing that bus.

I just read up on ex-Rep. Tom Coburn. He would kick ass in the Senate! Don't know that he'd run, though.

I'm a little concerned that Istook has bad hair:


8 posted on 10/08/2003 3:24:44 PM PDT by JohnnyZ (RED SOX WIN! We had 'em all the way)
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To: nospinzone
Although there are many exceptions, like Mitch McConnell and Sam Brownback and Gray Davis, it is my belief that having the right "look" will get you 5 points in an election. So what do y'all think about:


9 posted on 10/08/2003 3:55:39 PM PDT by JohnnyZ (RED SOX WIN! We had 'em all the way)
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To: ForOurFuture; axiom9; jimt; AuH2ORepublican; JohnnyZ; Pubbie; Impy; dangus
The decision by J.C. Watts not to run for Senate is the nation's loss. He's a dynamic speaker who served in Congress with distinction. Still, I understand his desire to be with his family. So this is how it's shaping: a Republican primary between Congressman/former state legislator Ernest Istook (ACU 95%) and Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who share the same geographical base, and a Democratic primary between Congressman Brad Carson (ACU 44%) and state Attorney General/former Muskogee County District Attorney Drew Edmondson, who also share the same geographical political base. It looks like the ability to appeal to unfamiliar voters will decide this one.
10 posted on 10/08/2003 6:37:05 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued
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To: Clintonfatigued
Istook can beat either Democrat, expect the White House to encourage Kirk Humphreys to drop out and clear the way for Istook.
11 posted on 10/08/2003 6:39:20 PM PDT by Pubbie ("Last time I checked, he doesn't have a vote" - Tom DeLay on Ari Fleischer's demand for Tax-Rebates)
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To: William Creel; ForOurFuture; AuH2ORepublican
Republican chances of winning Brad Carson's House seat depend heavily on a recruiting a well-known Republican candidate with a record of winning votes in the region. State Labor Commissioner Brenda Rennau would be a strong contender, if she were interested.
12 posted on 10/08/2003 6:40:08 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued (Brad Carson's seat)
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To: Pubbie
You may be right, especially if Karl Rove sees Istook as the strongest contender. If it pans out that way, do you think that Kirk Humphreys would run for Istook's vacant House seat?
13 posted on 10/08/2003 6:44:12 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued
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To: JohnnyZ; AuH2ORepublican; Clintonfatigued
His hair looks good (enough) to me.

No candidate in this race looks like a model so looks won't play much of a roll.

What we have to PRAY for is that Jack Ryan goes up against Blair Hull!
14 posted on 10/08/2003 6:44:32 PM PDT by Pubbie ("Last time I checked, he doesn't have a vote" - Tom DeLay on Ari Fleischer's demand for Tax-Rebates)
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To: Clintonfatigued
"If it pans out that way, do you think that Kirk Humphreys would run for Istook's vacant House seat?"

Sure - especially if the WH promises a perk or two for Humphreys.
15 posted on 10/08/2003 6:46:46 PM PDT by Pubbie ("Last time I checked, he doesn't have a vote" - Tom DeLay on Ari Fleischer's demand for Tax-Rebates)
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To: AuH2ORepublican
***If Carson gets the RAT nomination, we're gonna have to hustle to win the Senate seat, even with OK's Republicanism and with Bush at the top of the ballot. Istook is a solid conservative, but he's from OK City, and this race will be won in the rural areas.***

If Bush can carry OK by over 60%, then Istook should have enough coattails to propel him to victory in the Senate contest. But you are correct in saying that Brad Carson would be a tough opponent. Carson, like many RATS representing rural districts, talks conservative but votes liberal. It is frustrating that so many conservative-minded Yellow Dogs fall for that scam. Brad Carson's key to Senate victory would depend on how many gullible rednecks he could fool.
16 posted on 10/08/2003 8:38:59 PM PDT by Kuksool
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To: PhiKapMom
Former Rep. J.C. Watts (R) who also wasmentioned as a possible candidate, said Thursday in a statement that he will not seek the seat.

Bummer. I thought you were supposed to be bribing J.C. with homemade baked goods. What happened?

17 posted on 10/09/2003 5:25:25 AM PDT by Coop (God bless our troops!)
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To: AuH2ORepublican
Yeah Coburn and Watkins would probably be the only Repubs that could win Carson's seat.

Watkins is a good guy.

He ran for Governor while still a Rat sucking votes from the main rat and letting Keating win, although that probably wasn't his intention.

He ran in 1996 for his old seat, we wouldn't have even had a candidate if he hadn't.

I believe he was sick in 1998 and wanted to quit but didn't so we could keep the seat.

It would have been nice if he had run against Carson although his home was put in another district.

I'm not too worried about this race.

Everything that could have gone wrong for Largent did last year and Henry still barely won.

MAJOR disappointment that JC isn't running though. :(

I'd rate this as lean R at worst although the resident 15 year old election guru over at DU calls it a "pure tossup" ;-p
18 posted on 10/09/2003 6:03:52 AM PDT by Impy (Don't you fall into the trap, democrats are full of crap.)
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To: JohnnyZ
"it is my belief that having the right "look" will get you 5 points in an election"


Didn't I say that a few months ago? Are you stealing my material? : )

All kidding aside, Nickles has the "best look" of the bunch, followed by Carson and Coburn (had you included JC's picture, he would have been up there with Nickles). Istook does not look very "Senatorial," and it could certainly hurt him outside of his OKC base.

So does anyone know what Dr. Coburn is up to? Did he go back to his medical practice?
19 posted on 10/09/2003 11:33:46 AM PDT by AuH2ORepublican (Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.)
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To: AuH2ORepublican
I live in Brad Carson's district. It was a SHOCK when Brad Carson took Tom Coburn's seat. How did it happen? Well, Tom Coburn backed Andy Ewing as his replacement. So of course, Republicans lined up behind him without paying much attention, at least I did. I didn't even worry about losing the seat, BUT WE DID! Andy Ewing was a terrible candidate and should never have been put up. We need Tom Coburn back if we are to retake Carson's seat.

Oklahoman's must put up the BEST candidate for Nickles senate seat. I don't care about who's turn it is, or whatever, I want the candidate that can WIN! I am very concerned about Carson taking this Senate seat.

Also, I would be VERY surprised if Drew Edmondson runs, as the Democrats won't allow the party to have a nasty primary that may cost them the election. Brad Carson is touted as the face of the NEW Democratic Party in Oklahoma and my local paper "The Claremore Progress" has already endorsed him for the Senate seat.

The OKGOP seems to be behind the ball. I just went to their website and they have NOTHING about Nickles retirement or the upcoming race.

The Democrats took the governorship away from us because Republicans got lazy and thought there was no way the Democrats could win, but they did. We must fight everyday to keep this Senate seat.
20 posted on 10/09/2003 11:45:02 AM PDT by yellowdoghunter
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To: yellowdoghunter
***It was a SHOCK when Brad Carson took Tom Coburn's seat***

It isn't a shock that Brad Carson won. The OK-02 is a quintessential Yellow Dog district. RATS like Brad Henry and Laura Boyd carried the OK-02. The region isn't called Little Dixie for nothing.
21 posted on 10/09/2003 12:06:06 PM PDT by Kuksool
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To: Kuksool
Yes, it was a SHOCK to those of us who actually live in this district. I know all about "little Dixie", but the people of the 2nd district are quite conservative and if we had a better candidate, we would of won.

But none of that matters now, we must keep the Senate seat in Republicans hands.
22 posted on 10/09/2003 12:12:01 PM PDT by yellowdoghunter
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To: yellowdoghunter; AuH2ORepublican
Did you know that state Labor Commissioner Brenda Rennau lives in Congressman Brad Carson's district? She is a statewide office-holder with substantial name ID, and has run well in the district in her previous elections. I hope she can be persuaded to run next year.
23 posted on 10/09/2003 3:38:59 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued (Another name)
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To: Clintonfatigued
No, I did not know that Brenda lives in my district. Thanks for the heads up! I would love to see her run for Carson's seat!!! She is great!
24 posted on 10/10/2003 2:34:22 PM PDT by yellowdoghunter
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To: yellowdoghunter
You're welcome :)
25 posted on 10/10/2003 6:01:39 PM PDT by Clintonfatigued
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