Abby Broyles seems intent on making her campaign for the U.S. Senate about one thing.
Without much of a record to run on — or from — herself, the 30-year-old Oklahoma City Democrat is trying her best to turn Inhofe’s against him. Sifting through his half-century in politics, Broyles has fashioned a portrait of the 85-year-old Republican as a self-dealing, out-of-touch charlatan.
“Basically, every decision Jim makes is for the benefit of himself,” Broyles said Thursday.
The hope among Broyles and Oklahoma Democrats is that every misstep and enemy Inhofe has made in his 54 years in public office, and that every grievance accumulated over the decades, will finally land with a thud at his door.
This is not a new strategy, but it’s been a long while since anyone has pursued it with such vigor against Inhofe. When he said earlier this week that Broyles seemed to be suggesting he has not always been above board, Broyles promptly tweeted, “I am saying you’re dishonest.”
Thursday morning, Broyles’ campaign issued a list of challenges to Inhofe’s judgment and honesty, even as the Oklahoma Democratic Party announced it has asked for a Senate Ethics Committee investigation into the senator’s financial disclosure filings.
Taken together, it may be the most aggressive campaign against Inhofe since he first ran for the Senate in 1994 — and back then he was the underdog throwing sharp elbows.
“Democratic enthusiasm is high, but there’s a lot more than that” said Broyles, “His arrogance has a lot of people talking. ... Everyday Oklahomans are struggling with how to pay their bills right now. He’s completely out of touch with the people he represents.”
Broyles does have a platform — and her priorities are much different than Inhofe’s — but she seems to prefer talking about the incumbent. Asked how she would handle the controversy surrounding military bases named for Confederate officers, Broyles said, “I think it will be interesting to see what Jim Inhofe does. ... I really think the next move is on Sen. Inhofe.”
When pressed on her approach to the issue if elected, Broyles said, “I would support legislation that changes the names of the bases. This is an important time in history when we’re having long overdue conversations. We shouldn’t have bases named for traitors.”
On defense, considered one of Inhofe’s strengths, Broyles said he has supported too much money for military contractors and not enough for military families. She says Inhofe was slow to respond to housing problems on several bases, including Tinker Air Force Base in Midwest City.
To be clear, Broyles is still a long shot. Presidential election years have not been good for Oklahoma Democrats in a very long time, and even at 85, Inhofe shows no sign of backing down from a fight.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has essentially told Broyles she’s on her own.
But she’s raised $1.3 million, a sum that will allow her to begin airing television ads after Labor Day. She says she’s had 13,000 individual donors, with about 85% of her money coming from inside the state. That suggests that somebody is listening.
Broyles has been holding some live outdoor events, but the usual campaigning is difficult during a pandemic. She’s been using Zoom a lot and says there is no reason Inhofe can’t join her for some virtual face-to-face confrontations.
“Ultimately, it would be like a job performance review,” Broyles said. “Inhofe needs to tell the people of Oklahoma why he deserves another six years in office.”
Featured video: U.S. Senate Democrat nominee Abby Broyles challenges Sen. Inhofe to 25 debates
Gallery: Jim Inhofe’s political career over the years
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