Governor Brad Henry Begins RV Campaign

Monday, August 28th 2006, 10:21 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Gov. Brad Henry and first lady Kim Henry began a campaign tour on Monday in a recreational vehicle plastered with campaign signs that will take them through southern and eastern parts of Oklahoma over the next four days.

The Democratic governor is traveling in the same vehicle owned by a family friend that he used four years ago on his way to an upset victory over Republican Steve Largent in the general election.

The ``Oklahoma on the move tour'' left about 10:30 AM from Henry's campaign headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City.

It had stops scheduled in Norman, Pauls Valley, Sulphur, Madill, Durant, Hugo, Antlers, Atoka, Ada, Eufaula, Muskogee, Tahlequah, Pryor, Vinita, Claremore, Collinsville and Sapulpa.

Henry is facing Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla., in the general election. Istook is giving up his seat in the U.S. House to run for governor.

Henry also plans an RV tour of western areas of the state later in the campaign.

Four years ago, Henry created interest in his upstart campaign by pulling into Wal-Mart parking lots and speaking to prospective voters.

This year, he plans mainly to walk main streets, visiting restaurants and other gathering places.

``I love to get out and shake hands, see real Oklahomans and talk about the issues facing them,'' Henry said.

He said he will stress that Oklahoma is on the move economically since he took office.

Henry said he balanced the budget without a tax cut after facing a $700 million budget shortfall in his first year, and the state's economy has improved to the point that the state had an $800 million surplus this year.

Henry said that permitted passage of a record tax cut and record funding for education.

The education funding increase included $3,000 across-the-board pay raises for teachers, but some administrators have complained the measure did not contain enough money to pay for increases in costs tied to health insurance and other items.

Henry said the Legislature should have funded those expenses and that he will make it a top priority to pass a supplemental appropriations next February.

Before boarding the RV, a group of construction workers from a nearby apartment complex took a break and came over to shake hands with the governor. Many of them accepted and put on campaign T-shirts.

Doug Minnich, a crane operator, said he was from Shawnee and supported the governor's re-election. ``We kind of like him around the Shawnee area,'' he said.

Minnich said during Henry's term he has seen a lot of road improvement and there ``has been quite a lot more work.''

A spokesman was not available from the Istook campaign for comment on Henry's tour and whether the congressman would be making a similar effort.

Last week, Derek Kern, Istook's press secretary, said the congressman's campaign was ``well positioned'' to overcome a fundraising advantage by the incumbent.

Chip Englander, Istook's campaign manager, also sent out an ``insider's memo'' showing that Democrats for top offices had not been able to get more than 43 percent of the vote in recent elections.

Englander said it was a misconception ``that Brad Henry cannot be beaten this November. Nothing could be further from the truth.''