A recent poll (conducted at the beginning of April and released this week) by the Tulsa World of 825 registered voters shows conservative former Rep. Tom Coburn (R.-Okla.) as the favorite in the GOP Senate primary over former Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys (R.). It also has him in a dead heat with the certain Democrat candidate, Rep. Brad Carson, in the general election to replace Sen. Don Nickles (R.-Okla.). In the primary poll, Coburn pulls in 34% to Humphreys’ 22%. Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony trails with 12%. In a theoretical general election matchup, Coburn draws 35% to Carson’s 37%, with a full 28% undecided.
Until his retirement to honor a term-limits pledge in 2000, Coburn represented the same eastern Oklahoma district that sent the moderate Carson to Congress that year. For that reason and others, many observers believe that Coburn, remembered fondly in “Carson Country,” has the best chance of keeping the Senate seat in the GOP column. As luck would have it, Coburn is also the most conservative candidate. His late entry into the race in March heartened Senate Republicans, who even now could lose control of the Senate in 2004 thanks to what could become tough races in Illinois, Alaska, Colorado and Oklahoma.