POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 21, 2011:
Primary winners took the money and won
The primary victory parties are over. A few of the yard signs have disappeared. But Tulsans still have one more chance to make their voices heard in the general election on Nov. 8.
Come November, Tulsa will have seven new city councilors. Three did not seek re-election, while four councilors were ousted by citizens who voted for their opponents.
Perhaps it's not just a coincidence that the candidates who took the most big money from high-profile donors won their primaries. Money makes the world go 'round, even in T-Town.
Local blogger extraordinaire Michael Bates said, "Money determines how often and how attractively the candidate can communicate his message to the voters. Grassroots enthusiasm can substitute for a certain amount of money."
Yet, the top fundraising candidate won in almost every race.
The Tulsa Metro Chamber gave money to 12 candidates, who were in most cases sure bets to beat incumbents in their districts.
Here's a district-by-district breakdown on who took the money and won:
District 1 Councilor Jack Henderson retained his seat from two newcomers, Jason Trent III and Twan Jones. He had relatively few donors, but was endorsed by the Tulsa Metro Chamber and accepted $2,500 from its political action committee, TulsaBizPac.
District 2's race was a little different. Candidate Nancy Rothman accepted checks from Ben Latham, Frederic Dorwart and Burt Holmes, and collected $5920, but didn't ultimately win the Republican nod.
Instead, Jeannie Cue won the primary. She collected $4,150 and spent only $1,802.09 compared to Rothman's $5,444.68. Cue accepted endorsement from the Tulsa Metro Chamber and $2,500 from TulsaBizPac.
However, Bates pointed out that three candidates, including Cue, District 3's David Patrick and District 6 candidate Byron "Skip" Steele III "benefited from an 'independent expenditure' -- a mailer 'Paid for by Working Tulsans,' with a PO Box belonging to a Creek County voter and Majority Designs (Karl Ahlgren-Fount Holland direct mail firm) on the bulk rate label," Bates pointed out.
Though Cue raised less money from Rothman, the independent expenditure may have helped her fill the gap in fundraising.
In District 3, longtime competitors Patrick and Councilor Roscoe Turner went head to head for what felt like the hundredth time (really, just the ninth!) in the Democratic primary.
This time Patrick accepted money from just about every big donor in T-Town. TulsaBizPac, Burt Holmes, Ben Latham, Frederic Dorwart, John Brock and George Kaiser financed his campaign. Patrick won the primary after he spent $6,225 on his campaign while Turner spent $4,788.60.
Turner accepted $1,000 from the firefighters union. Patrick will face Republican primary winner, David Bell, who did not file a campaign finance report for the period.
District 4's winner Blake Ewing grew his campaign coffers to about $20,000 after accepting donations from TulsaBizPac and Frederic Dorwart in addition to $1,000 from the Snyder family, who own and renovated the Mayo Hotel and support downtown revitalization.
Ewing beat fellow Republican candidate Liz Hunt, who accepted donations to her campaign from Ben Latham, John Brock, TulsaBizPac and Burt Holmes. Hunt reported expenditures of $11,837.89, while Ewing spent $13,741.07 on his campaign.
Ewing will face Democratic primary winner Ken Brune, who beat incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes. Brune accepted donations from Ben Latham, Frederic Dorwart and TulsaBizPac.
Brune's campaign grew to nearly $20,000 while Barnes, who accepted money from two unions and downtown investor Vince LoVoi, raised $13,975.
In District 5, incumbent Councilor Chris Trail was defeated by newcomer Karen Gilbert in the Republican primary that chose the district's new councilor. Gilbert accepted donations from Burt Holmes, Ben Latham, TulsaBizPac and John Brock.
Trail accepted money from TulsaBizPac, too, plus money from Frederic Dorwart and the firefighters union.
District 6 Councilor Jim Mautino was beat by Byron "Skip" Steele, who accepted money from TulsaBizPac, John Brock and Ben Latham. This district had a pretty inexpensive primary, and Steele ran a lean campaign. He raised only a little more than $3,000 to Mautino's $1,600 (mostly a loan to himself).
Steele will face off against Democrat Robert Gwin Jr., who's accepted in-kind donations from his father and political consultant Mike Workman totaling $550.
District 7 Republican primary winner Thomas Mansur accepted donations from TulsaBizPac, John Brock, Ben Latham, George Kaiser and Burt Holmes. Mansur beat Steven Roemerman and Elliott Parker Sr., neither of whom accepted money from these donors.
Mansur will go head-to-head with Democratic primary winner Michael Rainwater, who gave himself a $5,000 loan for his campaign and accepted no other donations.
In District 8, Phil Lakin won the Republican primary against George Gibbs. Lakin accepted donations from TulsaBizPac, Frederic Dorwart, Ben Latham, Burt Holmes, George Kaiser as well as Oklahoma City-based BOK Financial Corp PAC. Lakin reported his campaign war chest held $63,906.07, while he spent $32,222.87.
Gibbs raised a healthy $20,800 and spent nearly $16,000.
Lakin will face Democratic opponent Bill Suliburk, who gave his own campaign a loan of $15,000 and did not accept donations from any of T-Town's big-deal donors.
District 9 was unusual because incumbent Councilor G.T. Bynum swept the Republican primary while almost all other current councilors were ousted or left of their own accord. Bynum also did not accept money from top donors.
Instead, the grandson of former Mayor Robert LaFortune raised nearly $87,927.89 from members of the Helmerich, Schusterman, LaFortune and Zarrow families.
Overall, Bates is unhappy with the results of the primary, and called them "bad news for PlaniTulsa supporters, bad news for fiscal conservatives, bad news for constituents who look to councilors for help in dealing with city hall, and bad news for anyone who hopes for innovation in city government."
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