In Oklahoma, GOP Race Not a Given
By Lois Romano
Monday, July 12, 2004; Page A04
The Republican establishment in Oklahoma had hoped to all but crown former Oklahoma City mayor Kirk Humphreys as its nominee for the Senate seat being vacated by Don Nickles (R), believing he is the best choice to keep Democratic Rep. Brad Carson at bay in this conservative state.
Sen. James M. Inhofe appeared with the former mayor at his announcement for the seat, and it wasn't long before there were television ads featuring Humphreys standing with Nickles, Inhofe and former congressman J.C. Watts.
But even the best-laid political plans can run afoul of other ambitious men who are not ready to be elbowed aside. Former congressman Tom Coburn, a conservative family physician and onetime House maverick, has proved to be a formidable opponent for Humphreys in the July 27 primary. The two are locked in a ferocious battle for the support of the right wing of the party. Further compounding Humphreys's woes is Bob Anthony, vice chairman of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, who is unlikely to win but who is pulling support from Humphreys's Oklahoma City and western Oklahoma base.
Coburn is the darling of the religious right, a strong force in the state. His former district covers much of eastern Oklahoma and Tulsa, the state's largest city. He has received the support of the conservative Club for Growth, which has been funding family-values ads for him.
The seat -- once thought to be safely Republican -- is considered up for grabs. Recent polls show that Carson would be a strong opponent for any of the Republicans, but that he would prevail over Humphreys. The polls show a much tighter race against Coburn.
Cancel That Wedding Invite
Rep. Gerald C. Weller (R-Ill.) received the predictable round of congratulations last week when he announced his engagement to Zury Rios Sosa, vice president of Guatemala's Congress. But Tari Renner, the Democrat trying to unseat Weller in November, had a different response.
Renner issued a statement saying the bride-to-be "is a leader in the Guatemalan Republican Front" run by her father, former president Jose Efrain Rios Montt, "whose dictatorship was charged with genocide by the United Nations." The statement cited an Associated Press article saying Rios Montt's presidency "was among the bloodiest of a 1960-1996 civil war that killed 200,000 people."
Weller responded with a statement saying, "It is truly unfortunate that Tari Renner has chosen to take something beautiful and turn it ugly by launching a political attack against my fiancée, Zury Rios Sosa. My engagement to Zury is not an issue in this election. . . . To tarnish one [of] life's joys, marrying the woman you love, is simply beyond the bounds of decency."
"It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right. . . . Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife."
-- Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), advocating a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in a speech Thursday to the Heritage Foundation.
Staff writer Charles Babington contributed to this report.
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