MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

November 1, 2012

2nd District race pricey

Candidates are spending at record-setting pace

By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Two of the three candidates competing for the 2nd Congressional District post raked in the cash during the final weeks of this year’s election cycle.

The race for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Dan Boren has been hotly contested, with six Republicans and three Democrats initially entering the fray. The contest is shaping up to be the most expensive race the district has seen this century — the four candidates who made it to the runoff election spent $3.36 million through Oct. 17.

Republican nominee Markwayne Mullin reported contributions totaling $160,031 during the first two weeks of October. Forty-two percent of Mullin’s most recent contributions, or $66,440, came from special interest groups.

Democratic rival Rob Wallace, who outpaced Mullin in the race for campaign cash during each of the five previous reporting periods, reported contributions totaling $74,420 for the first two weeks of October. About 21 percent of Wallace’s most recent contributions, or $15,500, came from political action committees.

Michael G. Fulks, who is competing as an independent candidate beholden to no special interests, has yet to file a campaign finance report. Fulks said he has accepted no campaign contributions and expects to reach the threshold amount for reportable expenditures a couple days before the election.

“What I have seen ... is a succession of people who go up to Washington and end up looking after the special interests that paid for their campaigns,” Fulks said. “The voice of the people get completely lost in all of that. The whole point of (me) being up there is to take the voice of the working people to Washington.”

Tim Ross, who manages Mullin’s campaign, criticized Wallace after the third-quarter campaign finance reports were filed for accepting contributions from “liberal Democrats (and) trial lawyers.” Ross, however, defended his candidate’s acceptance of contributions.

“When Markwayne rails against special interests, he means the liberal trial lawyers ... and labor unions,” Ross said. “He’s not referring to the pro-business, conservative donors to his own campaign who support Markwayne’s agenda.”

The Center for Responsive Politics shows most of Mullin’s PAC dollars have come from pro-business organizations. PAC money flowing into Wallace’s campaign has included a mix of pro-labor, pro-business and ideological groups.

Kyle Gott, who manages Wallace’s campaign, said the Democratic challenger “has consistently said he wants to be a voice for working men and women.”

“Working men and women from all over the district have supported our campaign,” Gott said. “Rob has not accepted special interest money from people and groups who want to end Medicare as we know it, privatize Social Security and who want to sell our water to Texas or give it away to Oklahoma City — Markwayne Mullin has.”

As of Oct. 17, Mullin has reported contributions totaling more than $1.48 million, expenditures of almost $1.37 million, and $115,496 cash on hand. Sixty-three percent of Mullin’s campaign contributions have come from individual donors, while about 17 percent has come from special interest groups. The remaining 20 percent came from Mullin’s pockets.

Wallace has reported contributions totaling more than $1.11 million through Oct. 17. Wallace reported campaign expenditures totaling $987,537 with $122,695 cash on hand. About 77 percent of Wallace’s contributions have come from individual donors. Another 21 percent of his campaign cash came from various PACs.

Wallace’s campaign has accumulated no debt. Mullin’s campaign owes the Republican candidate $250,000 through loans.

Gott said Wallace “runs his campaign like he expects government to run: ... responsible and debt-free.” Ross described Mullin’s campaign debt as “Markwayne’s personal investment” and not an indebtedness in the traditional sense.

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.