Meet the Contenders
In the red corner...
Michael Bates is a lifelong Republican, accompanying his father to county, district, and state conventions in 1976 and 1980, and registering to vote as a Republican shortly after his 18th birthday. Although he is no longer a party official, he has served on the executive committees of the Oklahoma Republican Party and Tulsa County Republican Party. For four years Bates was Tulsa County State Committeeman, serving on the Oklahoma Republican State Committee and the Tulsa County Republican Central Committee. In 1998 he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for District 4 City Council, and in 2002 he won the GOP's nomination for that district. Bates was an at-large Oklahoma delegate to the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. He covered the 2008 convention in St. Paul for UTW and for his blog, batesline.com.
In the blue corner...
Elaine Dodd is a native Tulsan. She is a graduate of Memorial High School and the University of Tulsa. Elaine is a retired educator who has been married to Doug, an attorney, for 38 years. They are the proud parents of two adult children and one perfect grandson. Elaine is serving her third term as the Chairman of the Tulsa County Democratic Party and is the second woman in the history of the county party to be elected as Chairman. She was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention that nominated the first woman to run as Vice President of the United States. Elaine was chosen as Heart of the Party's (Oklahoma Democratic Federated Women) Woman of the Year and was selected as a "Women Who Know How To Win" by the Democratic Women's Action Group. Elaine currently serves as a precinct official and was an Obama delegate to the Oklahoma State Democratic Party Convention.
Round 1: Ding!
Michael Bates: It's looking like at the federal level, it's a good year for Republicans here in Oklahoma. We've got, based on all the polling, three candidates, John McCain, Jim Inhofe, and John Sullivan, who look like they're headed toward winning, and winning by a pretty substantial margin. I think it's because in all three cases you've got candidates who are in tune with where Oklahomans are on the issues: basic conservative values on the economy, on defense, and on social issues.
Elaine Dodd: In the polling Michael is speaking about unfortunately isn't covering at all the vast number of new registrations in our state, particularly in Tulsa County. We are seeing registrations at 300-400 a week and have been over the past couple of months; those persons aren't receiving calls to be polled.
I don't think we're ready yet to call the race, 30 days in advance - frankly in any of these races. I'm certainly not willing to.
We've seen vast numbers, in the last four months, [showing that] the Democrats have out-registered Republicans in Tulsa county. That is a phenomenal feat.
Obviously, this is what is known in campaign vernacular as a "ruby red" state. The unfortunate thing about that is we're ignored by both political parties in being ruby red. I think that to a large degree Senator McCain takes the state for granted and to a large degree Senator Obama sees it as the ruby red state it is and chooses to employ resources in more battleground states. My hope before I hit the rocking chair on the front porch one day is that I will live in a battleground state during a presidential election.
MB: We saw four years ago, George W. Bush won 77 counties here in Oklahoma. Tom Coburn won by a much larger margin than anyone expected over Brad Carson, and I think it was a matter of Oklahomans, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, in all parts of the state, looking at who these candidates were, what they stood for and their own values.
When voters hear about Andrew Rice founding an organization which went out to defeat the marriage amendment, which passed overwhelmingly in this state, they're going to say, "This guy's not in tune with where I stand on the issues." They're going to look at where he's voted on tax cuts, on abortion, where he stood on drilling -- he's been all over the place on drilling. They're going to say, "This is not the kind of person I want to carry my views and opinions to Washington."
And of course they're going to look at who's in charge of Congress, if the Democrats have the majority; they've gotten a taste of that for the last two years. They're going to say Nancy Pelosi is not going to represent Oklahoma values in the way she runs Congress, in the kind of bills that come out of the House of Representatives. The liberal Senate leadership is going to be the same way. The only way you can get Oklahoma values restored to Washington is to restore a Republican majority in both houses of Congress, and to do that you have to send Jim Inhofe and John Sullivan back.
ED: I'm going to try to stay away from terms as Michael uses "conservative" and "liberal," I don't think that's really helpful to discussions about politics. In fact, I think those labels belong on mayonnaise jars and ketchup bottles. What we're talking about are values in Oklahoma that people hold in both political parties.
Race for the Senate: Rice/Inhofe
ED: It is always difficult to run against an incumbent, and you have a very long-term incumbent in Senator Inhofe and a relatively newer incumbent in John Sullivan. But nevertheless, their power of incumbency allows them to garner dollars that challengers have a more difficult time getting to run a race. And sadly, what has happened in the Inhofe and [Andrew] Rice campaign is you have a senator [Inhofe] who doesn't speak about his record or what he has done or what he would like to do for Oklahoma citizens, but chooses to smear and distort the record of his challenger. That's the sad part of politics that has entered that race. Anyone can take anyone's voting record and spin that voting record to imply something that just simply isn't there. Yet, when you challenge the long-term incumbent and Senator Inhofe to debates, he simply won't debate.
It's unfortunate that people get their information from 30 or 60 second commercials that spin, or even outright simply distort the facts. Unfortunately, people are not taking the time to read or discern or even go to websites that are party-neutral, like factcheck.org, to understand the complexities of candidates who talk about each other's voting records. But I would think that Oklahoma values would say that we need to be very informed voters, very well educated voters, and that we need to check the sources of our information, and not get all of our information from one particular source before we make a decision.
MB: Fair enough. But if you actually do look at the record and look at the ads that Senator Inhofe has been running about Andrew Rice's record, you find it's an accurate depiction of where he stood, and it's clear that on issue after issue he is far to the left of the Oklahoma mainstream. About fundraising and the difficulty of fundraising against the incumbent, Jim Inhofe has been a target of liberal groups all over the country who don't like his stand on the issue of anthropogenic global warming, on defense, on energy. You name it, they don't like him, they have targeted him and have been fairly successful in raising money for Andrew Rice from people who are outside Oklahoma and want to see Jim Inhofe gone. What Inhofe has done is he has defended our perspective.
Let's go back to something you said about labels. "Conservative" and "liberal" are actually very useful labels because it speaks to two different philosophies and approaches to government. When you talk about problems like, "How do we provide medical care for all citizens of our society? How do we raise the economic situation? A conservative would look at human nature and the way the market works, and would say that sometimes there may be distortions of the way the market works, often it's distortions put in there by government regulation. The market is a better judge of what somebody ought to be paid than some bureaucrat sitting in Washington.
When I look at who's going to make these decisions in Washington, I want somebody who, regardless of what the issue is, starts from a fundamentally sound view of the way human nature works, the way economics work, the proper role government ought to play in society as a whole, not as the lead institution, but as one among many institutions that make a society work.
1st Congressional District Race: Oliver/Sullivan
ED: We have as a challenger a woman candidate, and we rarely elect women to Congress in Oklahoma. We currently have one in the fifth Congressional district, who happens to be a Republican, Mary Falin. We don't do a good job of electing women to office from Oklahoma. [Oliver] has her work cut out for her from that standpoint, if not also for the fact of being a challenger. Georgianna Oliver was born in very difficult circumstances in West Tulsa, and weathered those circumstances to the best of her ability and went on to Oklahoma State University to get a degree, and then served in the office of Bill Brewster.
She has returned to Oklahoma as the CEO of a company, a small business that's doing very well, and decided to offer herself rather late in the process of candidates offering themselves in terms of time to adequately raise the money that's needed to run in a Congressional race.
Be that as it may, she's very active on the campaign trail, and I think she represents a different kind of Democrat than we have seen, running in the Congressional district because she does claim and does espouse to be a more conservative Democrat.
She has a very interesting life story and has applied her challenges well in business and really understands the issues of small business and the real estate market that is so precarious at this time. She's a very good listener, someone who responds very well by listening first and then offering opinions.
I think the main concern that I hear from Democrats about Congressman Sullivan is that he just simply hasn't offered any major legislation during his time in Congress. He has offered legislation that honors the role of fathers in the lives of their children, which we certainly support. But in terms of issues that directly affect the lives of persons who reside in the first congressional district, there is a void there. It's very vacant.
MB: Well, that is interesting. Elaine's comment about women in Oklahoma politics...I was just thinking about after 1994 the number of Republican women that served in statewide office, Mary Fallin as Lieutenant Governor, Denise Bode as Corporation Commissioner....
ED: I am talking about federal office.
MB: Even then, obviously as soon as you mention as hard as it is for a woman to get elected in Oklahoma, well we just elected one two years ago -- a Republican woman. The real issue is, male or female, is this candidate in line with Oklahoma values and Oklahoma views?
Here we have a woman [Oliver] who, I'm not aware that she lived in Tulsa prior to a couple of years ago -- her home base I believe was out in Creek County somewhere -- came back just barely in time to run for Congress - not in time to run for any other office. In fact, I heard that she intended to run for a different office, but she didn't meet the residency requirement. There is no residency requirement to run for Congress so that was open to her. And the fact that she had personal resources, which is something you see Democrats do all over the country to get away from campaign finance restrictions, you send in somebody with enough personal wealth that they can run a competitive campaign. So she has enough resources -- the problem is getting in late.
She hasn't even convinced her fellow Democrats that she's a serious candidate. She barely won her primary against a woefully underfunded candidate [Mark Manley] who is probably even further out of the mainstream of Oklahoma politics.
ED: I would also say that John Sullivan had opponents in a primary as well which is a little interesting when you have an incumbent from one party that there are others [from the same party] that choose to continue to run.
MB: Well, that always happens. Evelyn Rogers always runs against him. Fran Moghaddam always runs. They're considered perennial candidates.
Mark Manley ran a serious campaign against Georgianna Oliver and came surprisingly close to beating her despite the fact that he didn't have near the financial resources. I think that shows a lack of confidence among Democrats in this person who just showed up at the last minute to run for office.
John Sullivan on the other hand, I think you've got somebody there who, from my perspective as a conservative Republican, is right on issue after issue down the line, on immigration -- very important to this part of the country -- on defense, on energy -- he's been one of the leaders in Congress pushing to broaden the scope of our exploration in both oil and natural gas, reducing our dependence on foreign oil. On issue after issue he lines right up with where Oklahomans are.
ED: John Sullivan could easily be defeated in a Republican primary if there were certain kinds of candidates that would choose to file against him. He will continue to be vulnerable unless he can prove to the people in the first congressional district that he is in touch with things other than providing an ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] office in Tulsa. I think that's fine, but I don't think that's what's being discussed at kitchen tables in the First Congressional District. He may be working on a variety of issues, and yet why hasn't he authored any legislation? We haven't seen any real campaigning from him this time as well. And I know Michael would say "Well, he has been busy in Congress." That is absolutely correct but he couldn't even make up mind on the most important piece of legislation to come before the Congress in a long time and that was the bailout.
MB: I'm disappointed that he decided to vote for it. I think it's a bad bill. I'm disappointed in Tom Coburn. I think both of them have been thrown into a panic along with a lot of other people.
But in the long run we're dealing with a problem that's created by refusal of Democrats in Congress to allow some reforms of the mortgage finance system to go through.
ED: I think it is unfortunate that you are blaming a political party on our economic situation because it is much more complex than that.
ED: I would say you have both presidential nominees who have supported the bailout and what I found interesting in Senator McCain's support of it and he has been campaigning one of his big platforms no earmarks and no more pork barrel. That's present in this current bailout.
MB: That's present in the bill that the bailout was attached to. There are legislative reasons why it turned out that way. Because money bills have to begin in the House, this was a bill that had already passed the House, and it provided basically a second shot for the bailout to attach this to an existing bill that had these tax breaks for wooden arrows and wool research. So there are some ridiculous things in there.
I think the perspective of those who voted for the bailout was that this is a real emergency. Tom Coburn said that this is like a heart attack. You don't lecture a patient who is having a heart attack about his cholesterol. You apply the defibrillator. I can respect that. I just disagree with the conclusion he drew.
ED: I just think what is interesting about Senator McCain's support for the bailout is that every campaign speech he gives he talks about pork stops if he is president, the earmarks stop, he won't sign any of that. Well then when someone said why did you vote for the bailout? He says "oh well that is just the way Washington is." Well if that is the way Washington is, then he needs to speak more explicitly about how he is going to stop that part of Washington if that part of Washington is so offensive to him.
And I understand what Michael says about extensions and the wool and the rum and the arrows and all that is attached. I am just saying that you can't have it both ways.
Part of the culture in Washington, most of us on a day to day basis don't even absorb. And I'm beginning to think I'm thankful for that in many ways.
We need to change the culture in our state as well as Washington so that we are better informed about voting records of the people we elect...that we do hold them accountable...that we continue to ask for transparency in government and accountability. It sounds so repetitive, and we have yet to have a website where we can go and really see how money is being spent as it is appropriated on a ritualistic, daily basis in Washington. Those are the kinds of things Democrats, and I assume Republicans as well, are very anxious to see as we move into this new millennium. We have all kinds of things that we have never been forced to think about that are dead center in front of us, and we must address them.
MB: Transparency and accountability are crucial. We do need a change of culture here in Oklahoma. We need to get rid of the culture of corruption that we saw exposed involving our state auditor Jeff McMahan, state senator Gene Stipe, and a whole bunch of other former state legislators, Democrats all, involved in favor trading and dodgy campaign contributions. It's the sort of thing that needs to be rooted out. We're starting to root it out, and hopefully we're going to have a Republican majority in both houses of the legislature and then hopefully in two years a change at the top with a new Governor.
I'm happy to say that on the Republican side, there was potential for some scandal in our State House with our speaker, Lance Cargill, but, to their credit, House Republicans ran the guy off. They got rid of him and lanced the boil, if you will. They said we're not going to deal in that kind of favor trading -- the kind of favor trading that tripped up many Republicans in Washington.
You see in Republicans in our state legislature a challenge to the way things have always been done. We do need a change in culture and I am hopeful that Republicans in the State Legislature are going to help make that happen.
ED: It's not just the Democrats in Oklahoma who have not followed the rules and been transparent and accountable to the public. I would add Todd Hiett (R) as well as Lance Cargill (R), among a few Republicans.
The issue isn't how a person is registered, the issue is how they conduct themselves when they are elected to office. A public trust that people give and that people should take away when they have not earned that public trust and when they have not continued to do the things that people have elected them to do.
Unfortunately in Oklahoma and across the country, when people are elected to office and become then an incumbent, that entrenchment in terms of their contacts and their ability to raise money and their ability to hire strategists and spin doctors and people greatly increases with the office. Even $38,000-a-year state legislators in Oklahoma have a lot more resources once they are elected.
We have to be vigilant and measure our candidates not by their political party, by their gender, by their race, but by their record and by their ability to get in front of the public and always be willing to get in front of the public.
MB: In John McCain and Sarah Palin you have two candidates who are in very much line with Oklahoma's values on defense, energy, the economy, the role of government. On the idea of earmarks -- you can point to votes that were made with fingers firmly grasping the nose -- it happens in government, but in terms of having people who will push for openness and accountability, opposing wasteful spending, representing the interests of the people over against big businesses, you've certainly seen that in the records of John McCain and Sarah Palin.
ED: It's certainly a historic election whichever way it goes. We're either going to have the first woman Vice President of the United States or the first African-American President.
I believe that Barack Obama and Joe Biden offer great detail in their plans -- if you go to their website and read all about it. I think they offer a change from what we have been experiencing for the last eight years, a very radical change. They speak to people about health care, Oklahoma has nothing to brag about in terms of the number of people who are daily without health care.
They speak to people on education. I don't think anyone could ever claim that Sen. McCain is a champion for education. Simply the record isn't there. He has voted against early childhood education time and time again. And clearly is not identified by a large number of teachers in classrooms throughout the country as a champion for education where Sen. Obama and Sen. Biden are. They believe that class sizes have to be kept to a level in which teachers can teach and children can learn. They believe teachers are significantly underpaid in this country. We entrust to teachers our children for the waking hours of the day- much more than parents are with their children during waking hours. So we talk about how valuable teachers are. But we don't reward them in any way. We don't reward them financially or with benefits. That is a kitchen table issue that Tulsans and Oklahomans talk about all the time. They worry about whether they're going to be able to afford to send their children to college. Senator Obama and Sen. Biden believe that every child who desires to go to college should be able to go.
MB: You know, that's exactly the kind of programs that, over the years, have continued to drive up education costs faster than the rate of inflation. When there is such a degree of subsidy in higher education, colleges have no incentive to control costs. The consumer doesn't feel the pinch because the government is taking up the slack and all it does is to continue to encourage the expansion of costs at a rapid rate.
You see the same thing in health care, and what I appreciate about Sen. McCain's approach to health care is that rather than relying on mandates, he's looking to offer Americans more choice and to sever the connection which has tethered people for years to jobs that maybe aren't the best jobs for them, or the most suitable for them.
Sen. McCain's plan would give people a chance to opt for their employers' plan or to have a plan that they could carry with them from one job to another. Senator McCain takes us in the direction of more freedom and more choice, and hopefully more market control over cost in health care.
Where I really see the difference is in the area of foreign policy. I see a fellow who certainly is distinguished in his speaking ability, but has spent a few years in the Senate and a few years in the Illinois State Senate, and is saying dangerous things about how we would deal with Iran, for example.
Barack Obama has said that he would sit down without preconditions at a presidential level with the president of Iran, a terrorist-sponsoring state. He has been talking irresponsibly about how we would deal with the situation in Pakistan, in the Northwest Provinces.
And you've got somebody just as dangerous, although with a lot more years under his belt, as his Vice Presidential nominee, recommending, right after 9/11 that we should send $200 million to Iran without strings attached, and that we should partition Iraq into three ethnic regions. It's not sensible policy.
You have to give John McCain credit for a lot of foresight in seeing that we needed to devote more troops in Iraq, and to take a different strategy, to work directly with the tribes in a counterinsurgency program that, having been successful in Iraq is now going to be applied in Afghanistan.
We are on our way to being able to withdraw, not with our tail between our legs, as the Democrats would have had us do, but with our heads held high, knowing that we helped establish another democracy in the Middle East that can stand as a beacon to the rest of the region.
ED: Let me first respond on the issue of health care by saying that 650,000 Oklahomans are today without health insurance. 130,000 of those are children. Those people don't have a choice. Michael talks about Senator McCain giving people a choice. We're talking about people who don't even have the means to even make a health care choice. I think that assuring that from birth through age 25 that persons will have health care is a great beginning in our country and would greatly assist Oklahoma who ranks, I think, fifth in the nation for the high rate of people who are uninsured.
On Iraq, it always saddens me that campaigns come down to fear and who to fear and that's how we make our decisions. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people in this country believe we have no business being in Iraq - poll after poll after poll has said that. Senator Obama and Senator Biden have provided a plan to extract us from Iraq in a measured timeline way that would remove us from Iraq, a country that is now profiting at our expense. To remove the troops from Iraq - it's not about surrender, it's not about victory.
We have lost American lives. We have lost American treasure. And we have lost an American concept of standing in the world by going into a country that had done nothing to us. Senator Obama was right on target when he said we should have never gone into Iraq.
MB: The idea that the Iraqis are profiting at our expense is funny to me. If anything, many of the things that the Bush Administration is being criticized for now in Iraq are the result of bending over backwards to not be heavy-handed. In response to the "No Blood for Oil" that we've heard over and over again, the Bush administration said we're not going to take any of the Iraqis' oil wealth. We're not even going to take enough to cover what it's costing us to be there. For their bending over backward there to be decent, they get criticized. To bend over backward not to be overwhelming and heavy-handed and deploying troops and staying too long and outstaying our welcome, they arguably weren't as forceful as they should have been to begin with which is why we needed the surge as John McCain called for early on.
We need someone in the White House who has a realistic view of the threats we face in the world, who understands that Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran are not separate things but they are part of an overall picture. We are fighting a war against Islamic extremism. Iraq was involved in funding that war. It's the big picture that matters. John McCain gets it. Barack Obama does not.
ED: We need a leader who is willing to view our foreign policy with fresh eyes. Perhaps Senator McCain does not have the fresh eyes that Senator Obama has. There is nothing wrong in suggesting that we need to be in dialogue with our enemies. It's always easy to be in dialogue with our friends. It is never easy to talk about talking to - as uncomfortable and as risky as it may seem from time to time - those who would oppose us.
I don't think it is reckless of Senator Obama to believe that America has lost its reputation in our world and its standing. We were the country that everyone wanted to come to and live-
MB: We still are.
ED: We may still be. But we are not viewed, if you have traveled to Europe lately, it is appalling, the view that Europeans have of this country.
MB: I don't want a President that Europeans approve of. I really don't. Europe is near collapse demographically. They are losing population. They are living in fear of Russia because they are dependent on Russia for oil. They are living in fear of the Middle East because of the large Islamic influx into their countries.
America has to stand alone. It has had to stand alone time and again. And we have been the country that has gone in and saved Europe's bacon more than once and will probably have to do so again.
It's the times when we've had presidents like Jimmy Carter who was more concerned about foreign opinion than about what was right for America and what was right for the world that America has been at its weakest. It's when America has had presidents like Ronald Reagan, who was determined to follow the right foreign policy for our country, to oppose evil in the world, to recognize the threat from a totalitarian opponent and to be steadfast in opposing it, that's when America was at its strongest.
ED: I would suggest that America has been at its strongest with President Clinton, where we were both respected abroad as well as dealing with the issues of our country. I think you can have both.
ED: I would say that Vice Presidential candidate [Sarah] Palin also made some errors. That's what debates are about. We're talking about human people who make mistakes.
MB: I'm not talking about mistakes; I'm talking about living in your own reality. There's a new definition for "B.S." It's "Biden Says."
ED: A lot of America never tunes into a debate, so they'll never get their information from seeing Governor Palin and Senator Biden or seeing the other senators. That is troublesome to me, how people make up their minds. If they don't watch debates, if they're not internet or computer savvy, if they don't get it that way, if they're not reading newspapers and magazines, than my fear is they rely on neighbors and friends who may or may not have correct information.
I think we all know about the e-mails that have circulated the Internet about all four of the presidential and vice presidential nominees that have been absolutely debunked. And yet there's not a day goes by that I don't receive a phone call at headquarters asking if Barack Obama is Muslim. It tells me about the power of the Internet and the longevity of an e-mail that just won't quit.
MB: Read snopes.com, that's what you come back with. You know, you're right; there's a lot of weird information out there, a lot of distorted information, and a lot of people who aren't energetic enough to dig out their own information or are busy with the details of their personal lives.
ED: What would be the best way for a person who has very limited time to become educated about the issues in our country is an answer we have not provided even though we have a vast amount of resources in different forms and shapes. I would just hope that they take one reliable source and use that before heading to the polls.
It's going to be a big election in Oklahoma. I don't know if we've registered as many as some of the battleground states, but I'm really anxious. I just know that in Tulsa County, the numbers are huge. It will be a big surprise if we don't break some record numbers for Oklahoma. I think other states are expecting to do the same. You know, that's the unfortunate thing about being ruby red. Senator McCain doesn't spend a lot of time here and Senator Obama doesn't spend a lot of time here, although both have been to the state during this election, but that's probably their last trip.
MB: I think you're right about that.
County Commissioner Race
ED: The county commission race is a really interesting race because you have no incumbents, and you have two well known names and you have two women. To all of my knowledge, the women have taken the high road in the campaign, and I'm really proud of that.
MB: Both sides have focused on what they have to offer: Sally Bell with her years as a financial officer in her own company, as a vendor to the fairgrounds, and her experience in dealing with county government. Karen Keith has talked about her experience in television and working for the LaFortune administration.
I'm honestly stunned to see that Karen Keith was not only endorsed by former County Commissioner Bob Dick, but she put that at the top of the list on her web page. Now, Bob Dick, although he's a Republican, he is someone that I am very happy to see out of office. He represents all that was going wrong with county government -- that Randi Miller was a part of, unfortunately -- no-bid contracts, hundreds of millions of dollars in financing for Vision 2025 shuffled to his buddy John Piercey and to F&M Bank, the no-bid contract for Murphy Bros. at the midway, the no-bid $600 million sweetheart deal with IVI for the south Tulsa bridge.
Time and again, Bob Dick showed that he was not for transparency and openness and competition in government. And here is Karen Keith saying "I endorse Bob Dick's endorsement of me." She's pretty much sending the message that "If I get elected I'm going to bring Bob Dick's style of governance back to Tulsa county." Now, we're just about through with that. We got rid of Bob Dick's colleagues on the county commission. I don't want to see Bob Dick's philosophy come back; it's bad for Tulsa- it's bad for the City of Tulsa to have a county government that's tried to expand and to poach into municipal areas of governance. It hurt our ability to raise money for the basics, like streets, to have the county going out and raising taxes for golf cart barns at LaFortune Park.
ED: I think you put way more value into Commissioner Dick's endorsement of Karen Keith than what was meant on her website.
MB: It's her number one endorsement; it's the one she's proudest of.
ED: It is on her website. His statement is that he believes it is more important to put the right person in the job than a certain political party.
MB: And what does that mean to Bob Dick? "I don't care if you have a D or an R after your name." All he cares about is are you going to continue that kind of cozy insider dealing that was typical of the way he ran the county?
ED: Well, I can assure you that I'm not aware of any deals that been made.
MB: I would love to see her come right out and say "I don't approve of the way Bob Dick ran the county commission, and I'm not going to run things the way he did."
But to put his name at the top of her endorsement list? That sends a very different message; that sends the opposite message. It says "I'm going to be just like Bob Dick or as close as I can to the way he ran the county." And that's not what we need from county government.
We need what Sally Bell has proposed, which is a county government that is focused on its responsibilities, dealing with the unincorporated areas, providing basic county services like our county clerk's office, our court house clerk, the treasurer and so forth, providing support for that, providing for roads and law enforcement in unincorporated areas. And not trying to become an empire the way the County Commission under Bob Dick tried to become.
You and I both opposed the Vision 2025. We opposed the regressive taxes they used to build their empire, and the practices of keeping the voters in the dark. We need somebody who will shine a light. Sally Bell is that kind of person -- somebody who will not try to take sales tax away from the municipalities for the county. And that is something Sally Bell is committed to. It's something Karen Keith hasn't committed to.
ED: What I know about Karen Keith is that I think the Commissioner Dick endorsement was representative of people in both political parties who Karen is enjoying their support. Nothing more, nothing less than that. I also know that Karen has done some work with the juvenile justice, which is charged to the county commissioners in terms of some of their responsibilities and she has a pretty unique plan that she has offered. I think Karen is experienced in all the kinds of things that we would want a newcomer to politics, which either Sally or Karen will be, and that is open, listening to all sides, trying to make the decisions that she believes are in the best interests of the taxpayers.
MB: I am concerned because Karen has hired as her campaign consultant Jim Burdge, a man who is associated with the trashy attacks on two city councilors during the recall campaign in 2005. From both directions -- whether he was working for Republican or Democrat, it didn't matter -- last minute scurrilous attacks on the opposition. The fact that she would embrace Jim Burdge and hire him for her campaign also speaks about her judgment and who she would listen to. Burdge has been a hatchet man for the development lobby and most Republicans that have any good sense won't use him anymore, which I guess is part of the reason that he is crossing the aisle, because his campaigns have been so slimy and deceptive. I hope Karen will exercise a strong veto over his activities and that we won't see the kind of last-minute attack that is typical of a Jim Burdge-run campaign.
ED: I haven't seen any of those attacks. I am not aware of Jim's role in or not in the campaign. But I know-
MB: -he is getting paid $25,000 by the campaign. Well $20,000 and $5,000 extra if she wins.
ED: In fairness to him, that is standard for him to get a win bonus.
MB: Sure. Sure. But he ain't just a volunteer.
ED: Right. I just don't have that information. I am glad you do. But I have not seen any negative direct mail pieces or commercials. I think we have really seen about all I would really like to see.
MB: (looking to moderator) Is there anything we haven't really hit?
ED: Except each other?
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