Analysis and Report: Oklahoma 2nd District runoff race heats up
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Published: 09-Jul-2012

In a Thursday afternoon (July 5) press conference, Markwayne Mullin admitted he misspoke last year while challenging the character of his opponent for using that misstatement in a current campaign ad against him. “I’m up here to set the record straight,” Mullin said.

The current back and forth launched Tuesday with a video produced by George Faught, Mullin’s opponent in the Republican primary runoff August 28 for the 2nd Congressional District of Oklahoma.  That video can be seen on Faught's campaign web site.

Mullin said the statement made in August last year was taken out of context, but the context provided by Mullin in writing and by audio tape confirms the specific quote used and is, at best, confused on the topic.  Mullin admits now he didn’t know then what he was talking about. 

Asked by this reporter to explain his understanding of “single payer,” Mullin said, ““I hadn’t even heard that term.  This was a year ago and I just started getting involved [in campaigning].  What I was referring to was that everyone should have skin in the [healthcare] game.  As a single person, I should be responsible as a single person not [dependent] on a government run health care program.  I think it is funny that government would use the term ‘single payer’ to refer to government pay [when it’s really everyone else pays].” 

The common long established understanding of single payer is, like Medicare in the United States and all health care in Great Britain and Canada, that a single source (usually government) pays all the bills.

Again this reporter questioned, “Would you hire a plumber that couldn’t tell the difference between cooper and PVC pipe?” Mullin answered, “That’s why we have an apprentice program.” Good answer for the plumbing industry, but the 2nd District Congressional Office is not an apprentice position.  Many consider local or state office to be the apprenticeship, character demonstration field, and/or general proving ground for Federal office.

However, Representative James Lankford (R-Dist. 5) and the recent primary win of Jim Bridenstine (R-Dist.1) stand in stark contrast to that tradition in Oklahoma.  Some suggest, contrary to liberal media reports, these victories can be seen as fundamental testimony to Conservative Tea Party significance and enduring power in Oklahoma politics.

Time and again at his press event, Mullin railed against Faught as a career politician for his three terms in the Oklahoma Legislature while describing himself as the small businessman outraged by government over-regulation and expense.

Both men own small businesses.  Mullin’s well-advertised plumbing business has greatly advantaged his name recognition and he once filed preliminary paperwork for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner. 

Faught’s less advertised Muskogee carpet cleaning business is long established and indisputably successful. As Tulsa Today covered in early June, Mullin has faced criticisms from his Republican opponents in the aftermath of an ambivalent Federal Election Commission deadlock on whether or not ubiquitous advertising for his business (and a weekly radio program) amounted to illegal corporate contributions for his congressional run.

Further, investigation 781065-09-0077 by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) pointed to an apparent “straw purchase” of one shotgun found in Mullin Plumbing employee Tim Saylor’s possession.  Saylor was arrested in February 2009 for a wide range of Federal firearms offenses.  One witness, the Claremore Daily Progress reported, said Mullin fit the description of the purchaser.  Violations of federal firearms laws are subject to a five-year statute of limitations. 

In the primary election June 26, Mullin got 42 percent of the vote and Faught got 23 percent, which sent them into the run-off election.  

The television ad released by Faught's Campaign states, "When it comes to supporting government-run, single-payer healthcare, Markwayne Mullin and Barack Obama agree." It then quotes Mullin, "I think a single-payer, single-pay system would be the best." That's followed by President Obama saying, "I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer universal healthcare plan."

With both men in a Republican run-off, any reference by one of the other supporting the Obama Administration could be damning. Faught's ad says he led the fight that killed the first incarnation of President Obama's healthcare proposal in Oklahoma and he was frequently noted for that effort in the Oklahoma Legislature by state media. 

In a bold move, a Faught supporter approached reporters in the parking lot of Mullin Plumbing’s Broken Arrow offices after Mullin’s campaign press conference to distribute an answer on behalf of the Faught campaign.  

The written statement says in part, “Since our ad was released, Mr. Mullin’s campaign has accused my campaign of taking his statements out of context.  This video proves that accusation is false.  Now Mr. Mullin’s campaign says he misspoke.  His campaign can’t have it both ways – Oklahomans deserve to know the truth about why Markwayne Mullin is on record supporting single payer government-run healthcare.”

In a follow-up response to this story, Mullin's Campaign Manager, Tim Ross, answered, "The point is that Faught is using an edited clip to deceive voters about Markwayne's position on healthcare. George Faught knows that Markwayne Mullin doesn't support government-run healthcare, but he's twisting Markwayne's words to trick voters."

This morning Mullin went on a radio talk show and was asked "what we should do about the healthcare exchange?"  He answered, "I don't know, I have been on the campaign trail and haven't had time to do the research."

This District 2 race is getting more interesting by the day. 

To reach Markwayne Mullin’s campaign site click here; to reach George Faught’s campaign site click here

 
NOTE: Arnett is editor of Tulsa Today where this story first appeared. A veteran journalist and observer of the Tulsa scene, Arnett is also a news partner of CapitolBeatOK.  

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