How red is it? Obama’s Oklahoma misery continues

At first blush, the big news in Oklahoma’s “Super Tuesday” presidential primary was the victory of former Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, who prevailed in a hard fought primary against Mitt Romney and  Newt Gingrich.

But after the initial wave of news coverage, national news organizations turning their eyes toward Oklahoma have begun to examine a hard-core pro-life activist’s apparent success in gaining a delegate or two to the Democratic National Convention.

Last week, Red Dirt Report’s Andrew Griffin spent time with Terry in eastern Oklahoma and focused on the possibility that Randall Terry could garner enough votes to create problems for the incumbent president, and perhaps earn a delegate or two.

CapitolBeatOK discussed the issue with Terry after a Thursday (March 2) press conference, held at the state Capitol, boosting the Personhood Initiative. Terry laid out his dream of getting enough votes in the Tuesday, March 6 presidential primary to undermine President Barack Obama’s electability in the November general election.
Terry then said he was optimistic of gaining at least five percent of the primary vote, knowing that fifteen percent was needed to secure delegate strength.
In addition to the president and Terry (a West Virginian), Bob Ely of Illinois, Darcy G. Richardson of Florida and Jim Rogers of Oklahoma (Midwest City) sought Democratic support in the Sooner State. Rogers is a perennial candidate. 

By mid-day today (Wednesday, March 7), Randall Terry’s success, in gaining nearly one-fifth of Democratic votes cast, was national news. A story for the Huffington Post quoted Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said, “If under the rules he (Terry) is awarded a delegate, we’ll be sure he gets one.”
Ben Odom, a strategist, former state vice-chairman for the Democrats, and respected political analyst, reflected, “This shows real dissatisfaction. You had a pro-life activist and three people who didn’t mount a campaign get 44 percent of the vote. … An incumbent president ought to be polling at least 80 percent, particularly against this kind of opposition.”

By late Wednesday afternoon, in an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Democratic Chairman Collins said, “We have a delegate plan and rules. We will follow the rules. We’re waiting for the election to be certified. Until then, we won’t have any declarations about what’s going to happen, other than we will follow our rules.”

Collins expressed frustration with “some in the media,” saying he thought the emphasis on low turnout for Democrats in the primary was misplaced. “One of the things lost is that the Republicans, who actually came here and campaigned, had 100,000 people fewer vote than in 2008, but somehow that hasn’t been emphasized.”

In the end, Terry had 18.02 percent of the statewide vote. He had more than 25 percent of the vote in eastern Oklahoma’s second district, where Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, the incumbent, is leaving office at year’s end. Terry has 22 percent in the third district (western Oklahoma). 

On the Republican side, chairman Matt Pinnell was both tough on Obama, and amazed at the latest development in what he has proudly deemed “the reddest of the red states.” Pinnell told CapitolBeatOK, “I think under their party rules they have to award Randall Terry a delegate. It’s certainly an unusual situation.”

He continued, “Oklahoma was ahead of the curve in 2008, in knowing that Barack Obama was not the guy he said he was, that is a non-partisan or post-partisan president. He does not deserve a second term, and Oklahoma is leading the way to make that clear. “

Pinnell sounded almost – almost – sympathetic to his Democratic peer, reflecting, “I think the Democrats are going to have a really hard time in November. ‘Shocking’ is a pretty good way to describe what happened yesterday.

“An incumbent president was held to 57 percent of the vote against four candidates without resources or campaign organizations. Turnout for the Democratic primary was anemic. How are they going to generate turnout in the top race and other races down ticket?  

“All of this has ramifications for the election in November. The president was in the low 40s in the second district, the only district in the state with a Democratic member of Congress. He was under 50 percent in the third district. 

“On our side, voters will have a short memory on the back-and-forth of a real primary with real candidates battling for support. Once we have a nominee, we will unite. The contrast between the Republican nominee and Barack Obama will be clear and sharp. 

“When it’s our Republican nominee versus Barack Obama, the focus will be on him, and we’ll be fine.”
Final unofficial results in Oklahoma’s Democratic presidential primary, with all 1,961 precincts reporting:

Barack Obama, 64, 330 votes (57.09 percent)

Randall Terry, 20,302 votes (18.02 percent)

Jim Rogers, 15,540 votes (13.79 percent)

Darcy G. Richardson, 7,197 votes (6.39 percent)

Bob Ely, 5,322 votes (4.72 percent)
Final unofficial results in Oklahoma’s Republican presidential primary:
Rick Santorum, 96,759 votes (33.80 percent)  

Mitt Romney, 80,291 votes (28.04 percent)

Newt Gingrich 78,686 votes (27.48 percent)

Ron Paul, 27,572 votes (9.63 percent)

Rick Perry, 1,290 votes (0.45 percent)

Michelle Bachman, 951 votes (0.33 percent)

Jon Huntsman, 749 votes (0.26 percent)