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Super duper or party pooper?


Pam Fleischaker June 21st, 2007

Front-loaded. "First, at all costs." "Super Tuesday." "Super-Duper Tuesday." If you haven't already heard these buzz words, get ready.   Just eight months from now, on Feb. 5, ...

"Front-loaded." "First, at all costs." "Super Tuesday." "Super-Duper Tuesday." If you haven't already heard these buzz words, get ready.

 

Just eight months from now, on Feb. 5, 2008, the atmosphere will be positively pulsating with media coverage and blog talk of early presidential primary elections being held in more than 20 states, including Oklahoma.

 

We've already had visits from more presidential candidates here than in past presidential run-up years, whether they are building crowds, raising money or both.

 

Sen. Hillary Clinton will have been in Oklahoma City by the time you read this, raising more than $300,000 " a huge sum this early in this game, especially from a small state unaccustomed to giving big or early.

 

The state Democratic Party chairman, Ivan Holmes, thinks our participation in the early primary is the reason Clinton and others have been in the state and will be back.

 

"With this strong field and this early attention, we can organize Democrats at the grass roots," he said.

"I already see new energy all over the state for these candidates."

 

Gary Jones, GOP party chair, also is glad to have Oklahoma in the early primary election.

 

"It makes Oklahoma important the way it hasn't been before," he said.

 

Hosting one of these sooner-than-ever primaries in the SoonerState was a goal of Democrat Keith Leftwich, the late state senator from Oklahoma City. Leftwich and others imagined Tim Russert reporting on election night from New Hampshire, lauding Oklahoma in its lineup of starting-block results to name the nominee of each party.

 

They imagined visits from candidates drawing crowds and attention to Oklahoma. They imagined money being spent here for advertising.

 

Heavy Democratic contenders Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards and Bill Richardson all have been here. Will we see Joe Biden or Chris Dodd?

 

Even more GOPs have made Oklahoma a campaign destination, including those Jones calls "the big three": John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani and Mitt Romney, as well as Sam Brownback and Duncan Hunter. If Fred Thompson gets in, he'll come here looking for some of that green, too.

 

But, I have to wonder: Will Oklahoma really gain attention that February night, or will the state get lost in the coverage of New York, California, Florida and the other big states?

 

New Hampshire is already worried about losing its star-making stature as that primary becomes just one of many. And how jealous is Iowa?

 

If Oklahoma's participation in Super-Duper Tuesday helps energize activists, voters and donors, I'm for it. But David Greenberg of www.slate.com may be right.

 

"Super Tuesday "¦ has backfired," he reminds us, recalling the 1988 multiple-state primary that "dilute(d) any regional influence."

"The greater the number of states that voted in the mega-primary, it turned out, the harder it became for candidates to personally campaign or even to spend money in all of them," Greenberg wrote on June 12, 2007.

 

And once front-runners are established on Feb. 8, the general election campaign could be long and boring.

But we have to guard against turning off our minds and televisions or taking a pass in 2008. We have to look very carefully at these candidates. We can't afford to make another mistake. Maybe getting started early will help.

 

Fleischaker, former Oklahoma Gazette associate editor, has served as a commentary writer since 1987. In the interest of full disclosure, Fleischaker is supporting Clinton's presidential campaign in Oklahoma.

 
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