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  A Beautiful Mornin' For Democrats
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ContributorDon't Tase Me, Bro! 
Last EditedDon't Tase Me, Bro!  Jun 05, 2008 11:33am
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MediaWeekly News Magazine - New Republic, The
News DateThursday, June 5, 2008 06:30:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionAndrew Rice is an unlikely candidate to represent Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate. A 35-year-old Democrat elected to the state senate in 2006, he favors abortion rights and civil unions, despite running in one of the most socially conservative states in the country. He is up against two-and-a-third-term Republican incumbent James Inhofe, in a state with a 44-year history of voting for Republican presidents, and where no Democratic opponent has climbed above 41 percent since 1990. Inhofe's campaign has already out-raised Rice by more than two to one.

So, why does a recent poll show that, upon hearing of Rice and his campaign platform, Oklahomans favor him over Inhofe by 43-41 percent? Rice is one of a number of Democratic candidates who are using the environment as a wedge issue, making gains in staunchly Republican districts by capitalizing on the growing practical and moral concerns about climate changes in rural communities across the country. Green issues are shaping up to be a key ingredient in the Democrats' strategy to turn disaffection with President George W. Bush's GOP into expansive down-ticket victories this November.

Rice has put environmental issues at the heart of his campaign. On the trail, he emphasizes his efforts in the Oklahoma legislature to convert the state's vehicle fleet to clean-burning fuel and to require public schools to reduce their energy consumption. Rice is hoping his larger agenda of alternative fuel initiatives, which include better harnessing the state's vast natural gas resources, will appeal to a wide range of voters. "There is a segment of Oklahoma's population that is willing to swing to the other side for the first time in 20 years," Rice says.

Rice could not have found a better foe in Inhofe, who is most famous for blocking environmental reforms and for saying that "global warming is the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state."
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