Inhofe kick-starts Senate race with TV ads


Oklahoma City_One day after filing for re-election, Sen. Jim Inhofe saturated the state with a slick television commercial extolling his efforts to protect military bases, clean up the Tar Creek Superfund site and obtain federal road dollars.

"One Man in America," is the tag line on the 60-second TV spot that began running Tuesday on television stations in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and other cities.

The ad starts with a man saying: "Yah know, sometimes being hardheaded is OK."

"Hardheaded saved our bases," a veteran says.

"Stubborn helped the people of my town," says a former resident of Picher in the Tar Creek area.

A voiceover refers to the Republican incumbent from Tulsa fighting for three weeks on the Senate floor to bring home "three billion dollars for safer roads and bridges."

"Impossible challenges? Not for one man in America," the voiceover concludes.

The commercial also is replete with newspaper headlines documenting Inhofe's accomplishments, including one where the senator is praised by Democratic Gov. Brad Henry.

Inhofe is shown walking down a dilapidated stretch of highway in one part of the ad, and between huge aircraft at a military base in another.

Josh Kivett, Inhofe's campaign manager, would not disclose the cost of the early ad campaign. "We don't discuss our media strategy. It's just a significant buy," he said.

Inhofe has a funding advantage to buy commercials over state Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, who is favored for the Democratic nomination over Jim Rogers of Midwest City, a perennial candidate.

Also filing against the incumbent by the end of the three-day filing period on Wednesday were three little-known Republicans and one independent.

As of the March 31 reporting deadline, the Inhofe campaign had raised $4.2 million for the election cycle and had just short of $2.2 million in cash.

Rice, who is taking on Inhofe after just two years in the Oklahoma Senate, just recently passed the $1 million mark in fund raising, having just under $600,000 in cash on March 31.

Tres Savage, Rice's press secretary, said it was unusual for an incumbent to be spending so much money so soon in a re-election campaign.

Savage said with so many candidates filing in the race, "We now know why he is running a 60-second ad in June. It looks like there is a lot of dissatisfaction with his leadership and his rubber-stamping of the Bush administration policies.

"We think Inhofe will need more than just TV ads to convince Oklahomans that he has not been a part of the Washington establishment that has created high gasoline prices, out of control health care costs and that has ignored the needs of veterans when they return home."

Inhofe got money for moving families from the Tar Creek area when he headed the Senate committee that oversees environmental issues. Initially he opposed a public buyout, however.

Kivett said the Oklahoma public is well aware of Inhofe's role to help Tar Creek area residents and other accomplishments mentioned in the commercial.

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