By Tim Talley
The Associated Press
U.S. Rep. Dan Boren is seeking a fourth term in Oklahoma’s traditionally Democratic 2nd District, but his six Republican challengers say it is time to turn out the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation.
The National Republican Congressional Committee last year placed Boren on a list of Democrats it is targeting for defeat. The incumbent is also facing a challenge within his own party from state Sen. Jim Wilson, of Tahlequah, in the July 27 primary.
The winner of the six-way GOP primary will move on to challenge the Democratic nominee in the Nov. 2 general election. A primary runoff, if necessary, will be held Aug. 24.
Republican candidates are Daniel Edmonds, of Morris, an agriculturalist completing a doctoral degree at Oklahoma State University; Dr. Charles Thompson, of Hulbert, a veterinarian; Chester Clem Falling, of Chelsea; attorney Daniel Arnett, of Henryetta; small businessman Howard Houchen, of Hugo, and perennial candidate Raymond Wickson, of Okmulgee.
All of the Republican candidates stress conservative political beliefs as they campaign in the sprawling district that stretches from the foothills of the Ozark Mountains in northeastern Oklahoma to the Red River in the southern part of the state.
Houchen was critical of what he said are government-imposed “choking regulations” on businesses that reduce productivity and increase expenses.
“We have reached the point of unsustainability,” he said. “They don’t serve anybody well. They don’t serve the principles of the free market.”
Edmonds said he wants to limit the role of the federal government in people’s lives and encourage greater moral and personal responsibility.
Republican candidates also say that while Boren claims to have a conservative voting record, having voted against the health care overhaul plan supported by President Barack Obama, his support for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., belies his conservative credentials.
“We know where his allegiance lies,” Thompson said, adding that Boren has consistently voted to install Pelosi as speaker. “I believe this country is headed in exactly the opposite direction from where we need to go.”
Houchen said Boren does not vote consistently with the principles of the people of eastern Oklahoma.
“He doesn’t always tow the party line,” Houchen said. “He does it about 90 percent of the time,” Houchen said.
Although Boren opposed the health care measure, Thompson said he did so without publicly condemning it.
“He never takes to the floor. He never argues on our behalf,” Thompson said. “I agree with his vote, but I am adamantly opposed to his silence.”
Voters in the sprawling district tend to support Democrats in local and legislative elections. But, like the rest of Oklahoma, the district was soldily behind Republican John McCain over Obama in the 2008 presidential election.
Arnett said Boren’s party affiliation and the conservative nature of his district’s voters creates a dilemma.
“If he votes along with his party, he’ll alienate his district. And if he votes with his constituents, he alienates his party,” Arnett said. “He spouts out these conservative values but does nothing really to protect them.”
“I don’t think he’s a conservative,” Edmonds said. “I want to offer a true conservative to the people of the 2nd District.”