In the words of former political advisor Sheryl Lovelady, Tulsa's mayoral primary "completely collapsed" into partisanship.
She referred to the district-by-district numbers to back her claim, describing how "traditionally Democratic areas" paved the way for former mayor Kathy Taylor to earn 42 percent of the vote.
Similarly, Republican strongholds backed Mayor Dewey Bartlett or, to a lesser extent, Bill Christiansen, who saw his candidacy end after failing to place in the top two of the June 11 primary.
"It's sad, in a way," said Lovelady, who once worked as Taylor's communications director. She stopped short of blaming anyone, however; the non-partisan primary format was only adopted with a 2011 change to the city charter. Taylor was elected as a Democrat, and Bartlett as a Republican.
Despite their well-known party affiliations, Lovelady said she thinks both "worked very hard to abide by the spirit of the nonpartisan election."
Will that continue moving forward?
To combine Bartlett's vote percentage (34 percent) and Christiansen's (23 percent) would yield a winner in November's general election.
For Bartlett, partisanship works in his favor overall, Lovelady noted, though she added that both candidates will need to make their cases to voters to win election.
That includes, perhaps most especially, those who cast ballots for Christiansen, who no doubt will receive plenty of attention from Taylor and Bartlett.
"Neither one of them has a choice. They have to turn to that pool of voters," Lovelady said.
One strong public supporter of Christiansen was Roscoe Turner, another former city councilor who, during his time on the council, was elected as a Democrat. Christiansen did pick up a few precinct victories in areas once represented by Turner, a former District 3 councilor (before district boundaries changed in 2011).
Reached by phone on Friday, June 14, Turner said neither Bartlett nor Taylor had reached out to him to discuss perhaps some kind of support for their campaigns.
He added that he may not give an endorsement. "I haven't thought about it yet," he said.
Turner seemed unimpressed with talk from Bartlett and Taylor during the primary. "Nobody really talked about anything of substance," Turner said.
Before considering an endorsement, "somebody's got to convince me what they want to do," he said. He added: "Before I commit myself to anything, I don't want a bunch of promises and nothing happens."
Among current city councilors, Jack Henderson and Blake Ewing have expressed support for Taylor.
While Henderson has long identified as a Democrat, Ewing was elected in 2011 as a Republican.
Ewing wrote on his Facebook page about the spirit of non-partisanship in defending his support from Taylor against some who criticized him for backing her.
"We've dumbed it all down to Rs and Ds instead of taking the time to learn about candidates and issues," Ewing wrote.
He added: "Combine that with elected people pandering to that dumbed down process and you have the recipe for mediocrity. It's disgusting and I'd be glad not to have a front row seat to it every day. Please, I beg you -- at least do your part to avoid being part of that problem. Hang out at a different water cooler. Listen to a different station. Talk to someone who really knows what's going on at City Hall and with the inner workings of the city. You might just learn that it's not as easy as Rs and Ds, especially in local politics."
Ewing represents District 4, which includes downtown, an area of emphasis in Taylor's campaign as she's touted her work while mayor in pushing for ONEOK Field, home of the minor-league baseball Tulsa Drillers, as a downtown home for the club.
Both Bartlett and Taylor may also need to make a case to Bill Christiansen. Despite initial public comments that he would back fellow Republican Bartlett, he's since said he won't make an endorsement decision for several weeks.
Lovelady, however, said she didn't expect such an endorsement to necessarily be what makes or break a campaign heading into the general election.
"I don't anticipate that an endorsement would carry a lot of gravitas. It will carry some, but voters are very astute, and they will make up their own minds come November," Lovelady said.
There's little doubt that Tulsa leans to the right. In the 2012 presidential election, Tulsa County was one of the very few counties nationally with a major city to vote for Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
"Republicans have a voter registration advantage in Tulsa," Lovelady noted. "It's certainly possible that Mayor Bartlett solidified his identity with the party, but I think the key to the whole thing is going to be turnout, and, you know, who gets the most voters to the polls will win."
The gap in time between June and November must be managed by both candidates -- and it likely won't be filled with TV ads, Lovelady said.
"They've had a 'grass tops' campaign. They've been on television and really put a message out in the airwaves. I suspect they'll turn to a grassroots campaign given they have so much time to really effectively cover the city," Lovelady said.
There is also time for events to develop between now and then to shape public opinion. Bartlett has pushed for diversion of a 0.167 percent sales tax to fund more police academies. But city councilors amended his budget proposal to add a police academy, and at press time it was unclear their support for Bartlett's long-term proposal.
Lovelady used the word "apathy" when describing what could happen with Christiansen supporters.
"Turnout was fairly healthy for a primary-type campaign. The question is going to be, does that actually diminish in November?" Lovelady said.
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