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Oklahoma senate race heats up

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Earlier in the election cycle, Oklahoma Gazette asked the question "Can Rice stick?" in a cover story that explored how the freshman Oklahoma legislator hoped to unseat Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. Meanwhile, "The making of a Mountain" cover story showed how Inhofe's political career has been a succession of soaring peaks and desolate valleys.

Inhofe, a global warming critic, is known as a tireless (some say ruthless) campaigner with a roller-coaster history in both business and politics. And most politicos realized Rice's grassroots campaign first had to heat up if he wanted to pull the upset.

Less than a week before Tuesday's election, Rice appeared to be closing the gap. TvPoll.com reported Inhofe's lead narrowed from 28 points to a consistent 13-point difference between incumbent and challenger on Oct. 20. Not surprisingly, the Obama campaign is backing the 35-year-old lawmaker from Oklahoma City.

Third-quarter figures show Rice raised roughly $900,000, according to TheHill.com. But Inhofe raised the same amount in that time and already had $2 million in his coffer. And consider this stat from The Oklahoman: Inhofe managed to raise more than $6 million since the 2002 election while his challenger raised $2.3 million since his campaign launched in 2007.

The mudslinging from both sides is as dirty as a hog farm. Recently, the 2020 Action Fund targeted Inhofe with a statewide ad campaign and also developed the Web site InhofeTruth.org, according to The Norman Transcript. Speaking for 2020, Brooke Coleman said the ad was intended to "shine the light on politicians who repeatedly sell out main street America to serve the interests of multi-billion dollar, multinational corporations."

While the ad took the Rice campaign by surprise, The Transcript reported, Inhofe's campaign spokesman said an out-of-state committee was attacking the incumbent to bolster a sputtering campaign.

"This outrageous ad by a far-left Massachusetts-based group is nothing more than a coordinated attack by Andrew Rice and his supporters against Jim Inhofe," campaign spokesman Josh Kivett told The Transcript.

Is the campaign sputtering? Inhofe led 51 percent to 39 percent in a Survey USA poll taken Oct. 18 and 19.

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