Minds at work: Pinnell jabs ‘Organizing for America,’ Odom looks at November

CapitolBeatOK Staff Report

Published: 16-Jul-2010

Matt Pinnell, the new Oklahoma Republican party chairman, this week jabbed at state Democratic party for aligning with “Organizing for America,” a group closely tied to President Barack Obama’s roots as a community organizer. Meanwhile, Ben Odom, a widely respected longtime Democratic leader, has taken a candid look at his party’s challenging prospects in the November election, ending with hopes rooted in the values of Oklahoma Democrats.

Pinnell, recently elected to replace Republican state chairman Gary Jones, criticized state Democrats for touting “organizing” training as part of the June 26 state Democrat Day. He also took a slap at “Sneaky Sunday”, part of Organizing for America’s training in Oklahoma legislative districts.

Pinnell observed, in a release sent to CapitolBeatOK, that the group is focused on the president’s “most controversial legislative goals such as his corporate bailout and socialized healthcare bill.”

Pinnell said, “It’s crystal clear for Oklahoma voters, Democrat candidates in Oklahoma are receiving training and aide straight from Obama’s community organizing machine. How can Drew Edmondson, Jari Askins, and the rest of the Democrat ticket attempt to act conservative when their own party is working hand-in-hand with Obama’s liberal training organization?”

Pinnell hinted at a likely November campaign theme for his party, saying, “Oklahoma Democrat candidates don’t want voters to see their true liberal colors, but it’s hard to hide when you are working with the largest liberal training organization in the country. This November, Oklahoma voters have the opportunity to say ‘enough is enough’ and keep Obama policies out of our state.”

Meanwhile, Ben Odom had some strong words of his own in a recent blog posting, although his analysis was intended to encourage recovery of the Democratic party’s strength and ability to guide policy development in the Sooner State.

In an essay provocatively entitled, “Are we going to be crushed?,” Odom wrote this week:

“Many pundits, and well-respected ones like Charlie Cook, are saying Democrats are now in big trouble for November. I don’t think that in itself is news; the midterm for the party in power in tough economic times is seldom a positive result. But this year is looking rough indeed, has not corrected itself, and in many places is looking worse than it was a few months ago.

‘It now looks like we may lose the Congress. Here are the reasons why, and where the fault lies. This analysis may upset some people, but I have been in the arena for a long time and sometimes the truth hurts.”

Odom continued, “On health care, Obama, Pelosi, and Reid bungled the process, lost control of the debate early, and should have had one plan and one voice from the get-go. Instead of making everyone feel better and more secure, they have managed to scare the crap out of the independents, give the lie to the campaign pledge that no one’s taxes would be higher than they were under Clinton, and amazingly they were shocked — shocked! — to discover the GOP at the end of the day did not deliver any votes.

“As if they ever were. We could have started with a ‘children only’ plan that would not have scared people, and would have put the GOP in a box if they came out against it, but the D.C. team was swinging for the fences on this one. Now it looks like the plan will be massively changed by the next Congress anyway, since most of the provisions don’t kick in for years. Leadership failed us on this one big-time.”

Odom took aim at what he considers faulty strategies emanating from the national Democratic leadership, commenting, “On taxes and regulation, the Republicans have been handed the ammo for lots of 30 second spots. Taxes are going to be raised to pay for health care (the nuance that it is for the higher brackets will NOT be in the 30 second ads), and there is going to be more federal oversight on a host of issues. The looming 1099 problem scheduled to occur in 2012 is going to lead to a mountain of new paperwork for small business — millions more 1099s required — hitting the very folks we always say we are for on the campaign trail. Business interests will pump millions into elections this year to show Democrats are the ‘tax and spend’ crowd.

“The Congress has played to every stereotype voters have of us. Worse, someone has convinced the Administration that families that make $200,000 a year are the rich. Look for these HENRYs (High Earners Not Rich Yet) to howl like banshees when they see the taxes go up on their incomes and investments; there are about 5 million of them, and they are suburban swing voters. Blame the bean counters and policy wonks who have never ‘run for sheriff’ as [former U.S. House Speaker] Sam Rayburn would say.

“You will not have to be a rocket scientist to be a Republican political consultant in the next two cycles. They have a 10 second answer to cutting the deficit – ‘spend less’. Our 10 second answer is ‘tax more?’. Which one do you think will get more votes?  Remember President Mondale?

“Immigration is an area where the Democrats are looking for real solutions and have devoted more resources to the problem, but that is lost in the stupid P.R. move of filing suit against Arizona. That made the administration seem like they were FOR illegal immigration to voters. Could they not have waited until the law took effect, see what problems occurred, and do it after November? Noooo, they had to add another hot-button issue to take us off the jobs message, and another issue where Obama looks ‘weak’.  Thanks, Eric Holder. At least he hasn’t tried to push through any of his gun control ideas!”

Odom continued, addressing a less well-known policy shift under President Obama, saying the chief executive “is wrong about giving us a false choice on space — we could easily have done both the old and new plans. Instead we are grounding manned space flight, giving up a lead we have had for years (and the Chinese and Russians get to fill the void) and again we have Obama looking weak. Politically this really only hurts in Florida, but it is an important state. Ask Gore, if you can find him these days. (Yes, I am upset with him. We needed him talking about the environment more than ever, not dealing with a self-inflicted personal crisis and scandal.)

“The gulf spill isn’t helping, but it isn’t hurting the ‘drill, baby, drill’ Republicans like it should either. Obama needs to stay on the offensive on this one. We need to constantly remind voters of the pathetic crawling to BP done by that Texas Republican and others. Call this crisis even so far.”

Lest anyone doubt his continued devotion to the party of Jefferson – and Alfalpha Bill Murray and Will Rogers, Odom concluded this way:

“Now you may be saying ‘Ben, what is the good news?’ The answer is our Oklahoma candidates, whether it be Drew or Jari for Governor, or Ken Corn for Lt. Gov., are excellent, on message, and are vastly superior to their GOP opponents in every possible objective measurement. Our challenge will be to make the election about them and Oklahoma, not the tone-deaf Obama administration.

“It is frustrating that a team that did such a good job with message in 2008 has delivered such a poor job on what issues to lead with and how to proceed on them… to the extent we have lost 20 points with swing voters in a year. It is difficult to both solidify a base AND reach swing voters, but what we are doing clearly is not working.

“The ‘change’ swing voters wanted was competence, not left-wing ideology. I said in a speech a year ago forget the pros/cons of the policies, Pelosi and Reid are the worst possible leaders on TV for us, and Obama better stop acting like a professor-in-chief and start gut-fighting. That is still my belief today. If we don’t fight like we have never fought before, we are in for a rough night in November. So get busy.”

Note: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.