Cornett’s ‘100,000 jobs’ citation in ad refers to seven-county area
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mick Cornett launched a television ad last week in Tulsa aimed at introducing the former Oklahoma City mayor to a region where he is not as well known.
In the 30-second biographical spot, which shows pictures of his family and early years as a broadcaster, Cornett, the former mayor of Oklahoma City, says “Nearly 100,000 new jobs.” There is no context or explanation.
Will Gattenby, Cornett’s campaign spokesman, said in an email that the number reflects an increase in employment of 121,513 from early 2004, when Cornett first took office, until early this year, just before he stepped aside.
However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data used for the number reflects employment in the entire Oklahoma City metropolitan area. The BLS includes seven counties in the area: Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, Lincoln, Logan, McClain and Oklahoma.
Those counties include cities like Edmond, Piedmont, Mustang, Moore, Norman and others that have had high rates of growth in the past decade.
According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the Oklahoma City metropolitan area has about 1.4 million people, more than twice the population of Oklahoma City itself.
Gattenby did not respond to a question about whether Cornett was claiming in the ad to have created 100,000 jobs in the city or in the Oklahoma City metropolitan area.
A press release issued last week about the ad says Cornett’s legacy in city government includes “100,000 new jobs.”
The ad is Cornett’s first of the campaign, and the focus on the Tulsa television market aims to close the gap somewhat between Cornett’s name identification in his hometown and in the state’s second largest city.
Early this year, a political action committee backing Cornett financed ads for him in the Tulsa market.
Gattenby said the campaign intends to run ads in Tulsa up to the June 26 primaries.
Richardson ad uses anti-immigration group’s estimates
Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, another Republican running for governor, claims in his most recent television ad that illegal immigration costs Oklahoma taxpayers $464 million a year.
A spokesman for Richardson said the number came from a study by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a non-profit group based in Washington, D.C., that says it wants “better border management” and “lower levels of overall immigration.”
The group’s latest report estimates that illegal immigrants and their children cost Oklahomans $624 million a year. That is based on the group’s estimate that 107,000 “illegal aliens live in Oklahoma” along with “their roughly 36,000 U.S.-born children.” The group estimates that “illegal alien households add 31,000 students to local schools.”
Deana Silk, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma education department, said the department does not track information cited by the FAIR group.
“Schools are required to educate everyone regardless of citizenship status,” Silk said.
The FAIR group estimates that $241 million in annual Oklahoma education costs, including limited English proficient instruction, is attributable to illegal immigration. The group makes other estimates for Medicaid, law enforcement, corrections and general government services.
In its report, the FAIR group states that, “Estimations of the state and local costs associated with illegal aliens are considerably more difficult to pinpoint than the federal costs.”
The group says it uses “state-by-state totals of illegal aliens compiled by credible research institutions.”
One institution cited is the Pew Research Center. A 2014 Pew study estimated Oklahoma’s unauthorized immigrant population at 95,000, about 12,000 less than the FAIR study cited by Richardson’s campaign. Oklahoma’s total population is about 4 million.
Immigration was a major theme of Donald Trump’s campaign for president two years ago. A recent public poll showed that 80 percent of likely Oklahoma Republican primary voters approved of Trump.
Lamb adds Trump to existing TV spot
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb quickly incorporated Donald Trump Jr. into his television advertising. A week after Trump’s May 2 appearance in Oklahoma City for a Lamb fundraiser, the Lamb campaign added a picture to an existing television spot of Lamb and Trump together.
The Lamb campaign has not released fundraising totals from the $500-a-plate event, but the bigger value may have been in the publicity and the ad opportunities.
In his first television ad, Republican gubernatorial hopeful Mick Cornett makes reference to a job number for a sevencounty area, not the city he once led.