Political roundup: Politics of Ebola, Barresi v. Obama for governor 

Dramatic headlines, misinformation on social media and fear mongering from politicians have fueled Ebola panic across the nation over the past few weeks, despite the fact that there have been just three documented cases of people contracting the disease in the United States.

With midterm elections just a few weeks away, politicians on both sides of the aisle have played on America’s fear in an effort to win political points.

However, some of Oklahoma’s highest ranking elected officials and government leaders have attempted to tone down the rhetoric.

“As it stands today, we are prepared to isolate and treat an individual in the state,” Oklahoma Secretary of Health and Human Services Terry Cline told Oklahoma Watch last week. “All of our preparedness mechanisms are in place. The work with the hospitals has been ongoing."

When a state legislator called for the governor to issue a state of emergency in light of an Ebola victim in the United States, Gov. Mary Fallin said it would be unnecessary.

"Declaring a state of emergency when no Oklahomans are actually sick would be premature,” Fallin spokesperson Alex Weintz said earlier this month.

Fallin has made an effort not to spread panic, but she has also used the situation as another way to criticize the president, which she has done regularly during her term in office and throughout her reelection campaign.

“What is lacking now is a commitment from our federal partners to establish a comprehensive plan to reduce risk for our citizens,” Fallin said in a statement last week. “The president’s assurances that the federal government is doing everything it can are ringing hollow. We need the White House to take this threat seriously and move quickly to protect our citizens.”

While Ebola panic is spreading much faster than the actual virus, there are many health experts that maintain the nation is not at an immediate risk. Besides, with one death reported in the United States from Ebola, other killers such as the flu, lightening strikes and guns cause thousands of deaths each year, yet are not considered an emergency by many of the same politicians using Ebola as a soapbox.

Rep. James Lankford, a frontrunner in a race for Senate next month, is another critic of President Barack Obama, but has said he is relatively satisfied with the response to Ebola so far at the national level.

"We have the greatest healthcare system in the world, and no one else could contain this the same way that the United States can," Lankford told KRMG.

Barresi vs. Obama for governor

In the latest campaign ad from Gov. Mary Fallin, Democratic challenger Joe Dorman is painted as a mini-Obama.

"Joe Dorman, he is so much like Obama, why would we ever want him as governor,” the commercial says as a picture of Obama morphs into one of Dorman.

As Fallin attempts to connect Dorman with Obama, Dorman is looking to connect Fallin with Janet Barresi, Oklahoma’s state superintendent of public instruction who lost her reelection bid in the Republican primary this summer.

“Fallin + Barresi = ‘Fal-esi’ - Failed Leadership, Walking Hand in Hand,” Dorman’s campaign recently posted on its Facebook page. “In June's primary election, Oklahomans spoke loud and clear when they voted Barresi out of office, but Barresi was only half of the problem. The other half is Governor Fallin. Together, they continuously ignore Oklahoma educators and work against public education.”

Number of the week

62. That’s the percentage chance Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com gives Republicans at winning control of the U.S. Senate next month. The Washington Post reports that two other highly regarded election predictors also give the GOP a greater than 60 percent chance of winning. Races in Iowa, Kansas, Colorado and Georgia are expected to decide the power battle. Oklahoma’s two senate races are considered strong Republican holds.

Further reading

William Crum of the Oklahoman recently reported on his own experience voting by mail and the simplicity it might offer some voters this year.

“Voting by mail gave me the chance to think through my choices at the dining room table, with nobody waiting in line behind me,” Crum said. You can find that story here.

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