Monday, December 7, 2009

Weekly Opinion/Editorial

by Steve Fair

Almost a year before the 2010 elections, the field is already getting crowded in the races that will be on the ballot. Oklahomans will elect a U.S. Senator next November. Currently the only announced candidate in the race is the incumbent, U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican. Coburn will be tough to beat and no well-known Democrat has announced in the race. Governor Henry cannot seek another term, but what he plans to do politically is still subject to speculation. At age 46, and having approval ratings that have never gotten below 60%, it’s likely Henry will be on the ballot in the future.

The list of candidates running for Henry’s job include state Attorney General Drew Edmondson and Lt. Governor Jari Askins who are vying for the Democrat nomination. U.S. Congresswoman Mary Fallin and State Senator Randy Brogdon are the Republican candidates.

With Askins not running for re-election as Lt. Governor, three candidates have announced their candidacy to replace her. State Senator Todd Lamb, (R-Edmond) and State Representative John Wright, (R-Tulsa) are the Republicans seeking the seat and State Senator Kenneth Corn, (D-Howe) is the announced candidate for the Democrat nomination.

Because Edmondson is running for Governor, the AG’s race is open and three candidates have announced. Former Governor Keating’s son-in-law and U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard’s son, Ryan Leonard is seeking the GOP nomination. He has a primary opponent in State Senator Clark Jolley, (R-Edmond). Jolley was re-elected to the state senate in 2008 and would not lose his seat if he weren’t elected AG. That’s something that should be changed in Oklahoma. Elected officials shouldn’t be able to run for another office without resigning the one they hold. The ‘safety net’ should be eliminated. Jim Priest, an attorney and Church of the Nazarene lay minister, has announced for the Democrat nomination. Priest, 54, will be a formidable candidate in the race.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett has announced that she is not seeking re-election. Two Republicans have announced: Dr. Janet Barresi, an Oklahoma City Dentist, and Dr. Shawn Hime, former Enid School Superintendent. State Senator Susan Paddack, (D-Ada) has announced her candidacy for the Democrat nomination.

Oklahoma voters will also elect a Labor Commissioner, a State Auditor and Inspector, an Insurance Commissioner, State Treasurer, and a Corporation Commissioner in 2010. Jason Reese is the only announced GOP candidate for Labor Commissioner. Incumbent Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields is expected to run for re-election. Fields, a Democrat, won the 2010 race by less than 3,000 votes statewide, so Republicans are optimistic they can regain an office they held for twelve years under Brenda Reneau.

The State Auditor’s race has not drawn an announced GOP candidate. The current office holder is Steve Burrage, a Democrat, who was appointed to the post by Governor Henry after Jeff McMahan was convicted on fraud charges in federal court. Gary Jones, the current Republican State Chairman, was the parties’ nominee for this office the past two cycles, but has indicated he will not run this cycle.

Kim Holland is the State Insurance Commissioner. She will likely seek re-election. Several Republicans have indicated interest in the race, but have not announced. Current State Treasurer Scott Meacham has announced he will ‘retire’ from politics, making the Treasurer’s race an open race. Two Republicans have announced. State Representative Ken Miller, (R-Edmond); the chairman of the State House A&B committee and former State Senator Owen Laughlin from Woodward will battle it out for the GOP nomination. No Democrat has announced for the post.

State Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy is up for re-election in 2010 after winning a close race in 2008. Murphy is up for a full term and will likely face opposition, even though she has no announced opponent. Murphy’s race against Democrat Jim Roth was the most expensive Corporation Commission race in state history.

U.S. Congressman Tom Cole has at least one announced opponent for the GOP nomination; R.J. Harris from Norman has been campaigning since early this year. No Democrat has formally announced.

Locally, there will be State legislative races and county races for County Commissioners Districts 1 and 3. Each County Assessor and County Treasurer are also up in 2010.

With ten statewide races, a congressional race, local races, and state questions on the ballot, 2010 shapes up to be a year that will require informed voters to pay attention. Don’t go into the voting booth uninformed. Study the issues and candidates. Be an educated voter.

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