Sen. Jim Inhofe is better-funded than at any other point in his political career with $1.8 million net contributions, six times more than his opponent, state Sen. Andrew Rice, has raised, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed in October.
Inhofe still draws on the loyal Republican base he has cultivated over the last 30 years, to the tune of a quarter-million dollars this cycle alone, according to FEC records.
So far, Rice has not drawn heavily on money from political action committees, which account for 2 percent of his total donations compared to 36 percent for Inhofe, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The same data organized by industry shows that Inhofe receives more contributions from the petroleum industry than any other interest group.
Mike Carrier, a longtime Oklahoma Democratic politico who has waged several campaigns to defeat Inhofe, said he expects much of the same in 2008.
He said Inhofe will air ads starting in early summer "wrapping himself in the American flag with 'America the Beautiful' running in the background" before unleashing a volley of negative ads against Rice.
In an interview, Inhofe said he had never met Rice and had nothing but nice things to say about his potential opponent. In stump speeches, Rice has taken Inhofe to account for his record and for having "gone Washington," but Carrier said that will not be enough.
"If you don't have the stomach to get down in the trenches and slug it out toe-to-toe with Jim Inhofe, then you're going to find yourself bleeding on the ground," he said.
"My advice to Andrew Rice is duck and cover. His children aren't even going to be immune. Nothing is sacred to Jim Inhofe, nothing, except winning." "Grant Slater