The Duncan Banner

September 2, 2012

Brooks’ campaign impressive

Ed Darling
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — Few election results are more decisive than Corey Brooks’ triumph over Peggy Davenport in the Oklahoma Senate District 43 Republican Runoff last week.

Brooks got 1,576 of the 2,517 votes cast in the four-county district. That’s 63 percent.

He won all four counties, taking Stephens County 852-554, McClain County 990-342, Garvin County 83-21, and Grady County 51-24.

Overall, he won 48 of 54 precincts with two ties, claiming 16 of 21 precincts with one tie in Stephens County, 25 of 26 in McClain County with one tie, three of three in Garvin County and four of four in Grady County.

There are a number of reasons for his success.

Brooks was and is a good candidate. He is articulate, well-groomed, likeable with a close-knit family, young, poised with a brief but impressive background. He is a college graduate who was president of the student body. He has had work opportunities in the White House and at The Pentagon, served as a Baptist youth leader, was granted an administrative appointment to ensign in the U.S. Navy, served in Afghanistan and has a desire to work for people of the district.

He and his handlers pieced together a solid plan, running a hard work, old-fashioned, grassroots, shoe leather campaign that centered heavily on door-knocking in populous McClain and Stephens Counties. He seemed more knowledgeable perhaps on national issues than local, but he adapted as was necessary and practical.

Understanding the area, he significantly played the patriotism card, capitalizing on his dress Naval uniform, his combat fatigues and weapon and his experience in Afghanistan. Interestingly, he turned work as a Washington insider into a positive, pushing his jobs in the White House and The Pentagon as significant achievements.

That he led the four-person primary in June was something of a surprise. That without support of county Republication leaders, he easily led two local candidates – Davenport and Clark Southard, neither of whom fared well in his home county -- was an even bigger surprise.

Winning the GOP nomination last week’s runoff, if anything, wasn’t much of a contest..

That’s because he had help.

Davenport was obviously sincere in her attempt to represent residents of the sprawling district, but she was a polarizing figure from the start of campaigning. She had the backing of state Sen. Anthony Sykes, state Rep. Dennis Johnson, leaders of the county GOP organization and state auditor Gary Jones. But neither their backing nor the endorsement of local candidates by The Banner made much of a difference.

And time away from the campaign needed to care for her ailing mother who died a week before the election didn’t help

Her key negative and undoing was her role in researching data that encouraged the defeat of back-to-back Duncan Public Schools bond issues. She assumed those who supported defeat of the issues would back her, thinking that sort of tenacity would be important in the state legislative battles ahead.

Not only was she wrong, she underestimated the determination of those who favored the bond issues, took personally her role and transferred their energies into voting against her more than for Brooks.

And when her late campaign fliers challenged Brooks’ marital status, home ownership and knowledge of the district, he masterfully turned the messages into charges of negative campaigning and used them against her.

Lumping that together, she never had a chance.

So Brooks, now 33, is one race away from a job he could hold the maximum limit of three terms or 12 years.

Only Democratic nominee Mike Fullerton, a Duncan native who lives in Newcastle and who has been unopposed during the primary process, stands in the way.

Veteran onlookers all but concede the office to Brooks, citing his now experienced team and momentum next to Fullerton’s misfortune of being in a disorganized party and on the same ballot with an unpopular President Barrack Obama in a decidedly red state where both legislative houses are already ruled by Republicans.

Of note, of course, is that Democrats out-number Republicans in Senate District 43 20,939-17,838 with 4,555 Independents so, numerically, anything could happen. But that’s only meaningful if Fullerton and party leaders can craft strong reasons not only to vote for him, but to simply vote.

That, sadly, is unlikely.

Several other key races and propositions will be on the November ballot. All of us have time to educate ourselves on the issues. Each of us, regardless of party affiliation, can be a winner just by taking part in so treasured an opportunity and duty.

The question is will we care enough to bother

580-255-5354, Ext. 130