The thing about elections that everyone knows, but that no one generally discusses, is that voters may or may not care who wins, but everyone cares who loses.
It would have taken an effort roughly on the level of pole-vaulting over Kilimanjaro, but had Evan McMullin somehow managed to get onto the Oklahoma ballot, I'd probably have thrown a vote his way. And "thrown" is precisely the word I'm looking for: I expected that Donald Freaking Trump would carry this state by a yuge margin, and while I couldn't bring myself to work up any real enthusiasm for Donald Freaking Trump, I was really delighted by the prospect of Hillary Clinton losing, so marking the ballot for a non-Clinton ticket was going to be inevitable. I'd pretty much decided that way back in 2008:
For the purpose of argument, we will stipulate that Hillary Clinton is a biological female. That out of the way, it must be said that the Senator has some serious negatives: El Rushbo is supposed to have said that she screeches like an ex-wife, a noise which not only annoys once-divorced Joe Sixpack but also isn't necessarily endearing to the present Mrs Sixpack, who is inclined to say things like "For someone who's supposed to be over her, you certainly talk about her a lot." I'd be hard-pressed to find any female officeholder who draws this much vitriol.
After which, of course, we came up with female officeholders who drew this much vitriol. Then again, I've seldom gotten along badly with my own ex.
The other race where I was motivated in a negative fashion was in House District 87, where Jason Nelson, the Republican incumbent, did not run for reelection. In 2014, he'd beaten Collin Walke by a couple of percentage points, and Walke was back this year to try again. As always in this district, the Democrats did a more obvious job of getting out the vote: I'd met Walke, and various Democratic challengers in earlier years, but I had yet to encounter any of the Republicans running for the seat. A few yard signs appeared for someone named Bruce Lee Smith, presumably the GOP standardbearer, but Smith never came to my door.
This particular district being very, very purple — the GOP had held the seat for a decade, but just barely — I figured things would go relatively smoothly throughout the campaign. I was wrong. A Flyer War sprouted, and grew rapidly; in the last days of the race I was getting two, three flyers every single day. Walke tried to connect Smith to Governor Fallin; Smith made dark utterances about "dark money." Finally, there were robocalls, the last of which didn't mention Smith but did accuse Walke of being that most malignable of creatures, a "trial lawyer." I laughed; the "trial lawyer" is the traditional bête noire of the Oklahoma GOP, deapite the fact that the party hasn't come up with any new criticisms of the species since Gene Stipe was looking for a prom date. (Stipe, who died at 85 in 2012, represented his Little Dixie district for forty-six years; he was, yes, a trial lawyer.) "Do I have to vote for one of these jerks?" I whined. No, I didn't. And I suspect there were others in harmony, which would explain why Elle Collins, a veritable Invisible Woman running as a Libertarian, won 7.26 percent of the vote, a better performance than any other state Libertarian with two major-party foes. (The Presidential ticket, Gary Johnson/Bill Weld, got 5.74 percent statewide.) Walke won this race, but not exactly in a walk.
Otherwise: meh. It was that kind of year.
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Copyright © 2016 by Charles G. Hill