Oklahoma: Rice Makes Gains, but Inhofe Holds Big Lead

Posted October 15, 2008 at 6:34pm

State Sen. Andrew Rice (D) nearly matched Republican Sen. James Inhofe in third-quarter fundraising, but the incumbent still holds a comfortable double-digit lead over his challenger going into the homestretch.

The Rice campaign said it raised more than $900,000 from July 1 through Sept. 30, bringing his overall contributions to more than $2.3 million.

Inhofe raised $910,000 for the same period, raising his overall haul to $6 million.

But Inhofe had $2 million in the bank on Sept. 30, far eclipsing Rice, who had slightly more than $450,000 on hand. And while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is helping fund field operations in Oklahoma, Rice campaign manager Geri Prado said recent discussions with the DSCC thus far have failed to yield an influx of cash.

“We’ll see,” she said of further DSCC assistance.

While Rice has made progress in closing the 40-point lead Inhofe held last year, a recent poll still shows the three-term Republican ahead by 13 points. However, Rice’s campaign maintains that internal polling shows a deficit of only 9 points.

Rice, a 35-year-old former religious organizer and documentary filmmaker who was elected to the state Senate in 2006, embarked this week on a 50-city economic tour of Oklahoma as part of his efforts to tie Inhofe to the current financial crisis.

But in an interview last month, Inhofe said he was unconcerned about economic criticism from Rice, whom he painted as too liberal for Oklahoma.

“It is a conservative state, and as you know, I’m right at the top of the conservatives,” he said. “I know I’m more in keeping with the people.”