By Patrick B. McGuigan
As the Democratic primary campaign officially began in Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District, retired college Professor Tom Guild promised a substantive campaign. In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, he outlined distinctions between himself and Billy Coyle, a prominent attorney also seeking the nomination.
Guild said, “I am making a lot of phone calls, building a lot of signs, knocking on a lot of doors, attending events, going to speaking engagements. I am trying to catch my breath as this all begins to roll out.”
Guild’s budget is modest: “I plan to spend $30-50,000.” A former professor with years of experience at the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University, Guild reflected, “I have name identification, and will spend some money as this goes on.
“My father taught me a long time ago that predicting the future is a hazardous occupation. I can only say that I don’t think the Democratic primary can be bought. I have strong feelings about issues, and will communicate that. I do not think that money will be the deciding factor.”
Last week, Guild said, “My opponent and I have so far been at the same event maybe three times. We were just the other night at the same event in Shawnee. There has not been a formal debate of any kind.”
A forum had been scheduled for Thursday, June 17. The University of Central Oklahoma Young Democrats were hosting the encounter. Ivan Holmes, Coyle’s campaign manager, said, “An agreement could not be reached about the debate format.” Sources at the state party confirmed that.
CapitolBeatOK asked Guild, who launched his campaign in March, to list key differences with Coyle, who announced his bid in April.
Guild responded: “When I announced -- and you were there -- I stressed the importance of health care and made it clear I supported the president’s health care bill. If in Congress, I would have voted for it. I support it because it would make health care more available, and get rid of laws that allow insurance companies not to cover children, adults with pre-existing conditions and women. I also support the effort to prevent companies from rescinding coverage after a claim is filed. Supporting all this seems natural to me as a Democrat.”
Guild asserted that his primary foe is not discussing health care, and said, “I won’t do that. It seems clear to me that health care is something, among all the important issues, that differentiates Democrats from the other party.”
He continued, “I will support $100 billion in aid to state governments in distress. This proposal would save some 275,000 teaching jobs and would preserve the jobs of 900,000 other workers in the public and private sectors around the nation. I am committed to funding for mental health, senior services and other programs."
His opponent, Guild said, “is basically opposed to all of that. I guess that means he wants to let people fend for themselves. Democrats have traditionally said we should help those in need. The Democratic philosophy is that at times, when things are bad, the government helps.
“There are 47 states in budget stress. Economists say from that proposal I outlined $15 billion would come back to the federal government, due to the employment and new tax revenue. When you add up the costs and the offsets and so forth, it is worth every penny. It’s a way we could help people and ultimately not cost much.”
CapitolBeatOK asked Professor Guild if there were other differences. He replied, “I’m the only Democrat in this race with no paid consultant. A lot of people talk about running a grass roots campaign, but we’re doing it.
When I go home after a day walking in the neighborhoods, I literally have stickers and dirt on my shoes. So do my volunteers. People are of sick of big money dominating our politics.”
When it comes to the primary voters, Guild said, “It’s time for them to put up or shut up. I don’t need a King’s ransom to get this job. If people look at me, they will say: ‘He is intelligent and hard working. No one has hooks into him. Here’s our guy.’”