Well, Karl's magical presence didn't help narrow the gap at all. In fact, the latest SurveyUSA poll has Henry doubling up on Istook by a margin of 64 to 32 (Lt. Governor looks good for us, too, with Democrat Jari Askins now leading Republican Todd Hiett 52-42 - hooray!).
So what's Istook to do? Play on fear and xenophobia, of course!
So why did Gov. Henry grant clemency to a convicted murderer? A little background (which Istook seems to be ignoring completely) will help explain.
Back in 2004, Gov. Henry commuted the death sentence of one Osvaldo Torres, who had been convicted of first degree murder in the 1993 slayings of Francisco Morales and his wife Maria Yanez. The first trial ended in a hung jury, but Torres was convicted in a second for having aided and abetted Jorge Ochoa, who was believed to have been the triggerman. Both men were sentenced to death.
Here's the problem (death penalty issues aside, of course): Turns out Torres was never notified of his right under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations to contact the Mexican consulate. It's rather complicated (complete story here, but the upshot is that this became a bit of an international issue, with the Mexican government claiming a violation of consular notification and at least one other nation requesting clemency for Torres by reason of said violation. SCOTUS also got involved; the decision went against Torres, but Stephens and Breyer dissented, warning of serious international implications.
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution, and eventually the State Board of Pardon and Paroles recommended clemency, which Gov. Henry granted. In his press release, Henry said that the US State Department urged him to consider our treaty obligations in making his decision.
Well, Istook says that's not true and claims that neither State nor Justice ever said any such thing. For weeks, Istook has been running radio spots that characterize Henry as soft on crime and soft on immigration, so the fact that Torres is a Mexican national provides him with fuel for this hateful fire.
Istook has raised the spectre of the ACLU (which ain't too popular in these here parts) to paint Henry in a negative light. He's also claiming that Henry cares more about what the Mexican government thinks than about justice for Oklahomans.
Istook is taking a despicable stance, trying to manipulate voters by invoking fear of the scary Mexicans and using the victim's family members to play the pity card.
Here's the really scary part, though: There's just enough of the "Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out" mentality in this state that his desperate and digusting tactics may have some impact on the election. I don't think he can overcome the major deficit he finds himself in, but I've learned never to underestimate the "Bubba" factor in this state.
My fellow Oklahomans have proven time and again that they are seriously susceptible to plays on hate and fear. Ernest Istook is trying his damnedest to do just that.