Monday, May 24, 2010

by Steve Fair
Are Oklahoma Democrats an endangered species? In a National Review online article entitled, ‘The Coming Extinction of Oklahoma Democrats,’ Jim Geraghty raises the issue of Democrat policies being out of touch with Oklahoma voters and the recent growth in the number of Republicans in Oklahoma. Geraghty uses Representative Dan Boren, (D-Oklahoma), the lone Democrat in the Oklahoma federal delegation as an example. Boren, who is often labeled a DINO (Democrat in name only) by liberals and sits on the board of the NRA is a proud member of the Blue Dog Democrats. Boren attempts to ‘brand’ himself a conservative, but that may not be enough in 2010. In November, the three term Congressman will face one of five Republicans fighting it out in the GOP primary.
The Republican House Committee has listed Boren’s seat as a ‘targeted’ race, but realistically it’s a long shot for Republicans to pick up the seat. Boren represents ‘Little Dixie’- aka SE Oklahoma. What got the national GOP interested was the district voted overwhelmingly for McCain over Obama in 2008(two to one). But Boren has good political instincts. Even though his father and grandfather endorsed then candidate Obama, Boren did not publicly. In June of 2008, Boren said, “I still remain very concerned about the (Obama) voting record being the most liberal of the United States Senate.” But Boren went on to say, “Having said that, I am voting for Democrats this year.” Since Obama was the only Democrat running for President in November, it’s clear Boren voted for him. His ‘non-endorsement’ was for political expediency only.
Boren’s conservative press release doesn’t match his voting record. Boren’s lifetime Conservative Index ranks him at 23%, meaning that 77% of the time, he is on the wrong side of the issue. But the only vote that voters may be interested in is the one Boren cast for Speaker of the House. In spite of Boren’s conservative talk, he toed the party line and voted for Nancy Pelosi. Boren can’t press release that vote away and it will cost him in November. Will Boren go down in November? Based on the anti-incumbent climate, this could be the year.
Is Geraghty right- are Oklahoma Democrats endangered? Oklahoma Democrats have traditionally been more conservative than the national party, but when party leaders adopted a more liberal state platform in 2006, they proved they were out of touch with the average Oklahoma voter. The Dems have steadily lost the registration war and conservative Democrats are changing party affiliation in droves. But I wouldn’t schedule a memorial service quite yet.
Remember when Republicans gained control of the U.S. House in 1994 after more than forty years of Democrat rule? Conservatives promptly declared the Democrat Party dead. Democrat elected officials wanting to save their political careers changed parties. It was a time of rejoicing and celebration in the GOP. That was until November 2006. That election day the Democrats regained control of both chambers and promptly proclaimed the old GOP dead. It seemed they might be right because in 2008, the GOP lost the White House. Some Republican elected officials in order to save their political careers changed parties. The Dems were overcome with joy- they had decimated the Republicans. But, like George W on the deck of the carrier, they declared victory a little early. It appears 2010 will be a big Republican year, so the pendulum will have swung the other direction again.
But Geraghty was talking specifically about Oklahoma. Are Democrats losing ground in Oklahoma? According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, the latest registration numbers show Democrats are below 50% in registration and Republicans are over 40% for the first time in state history. According to Sooner Polls, more than two thirds of Oklahomans identify themselves with the Republican Party. Democrats are likely to lose seats in the legislature in the 2010 elections and are polling behind in statewide races, partially because of the drag of the national party. When you consider that just six years ago, Democrats controlled both chambers of the Oklahoma legislature and had for almost a century, that is a striking trend. But don’t start dancing on the Oklahoma Dems grave just yet. As the national Republicans have proven, if Oklahoma Republicans don’t act like Republicans, the people will go another direction.
When reading Geraghty’s article, I’m reminded of when Mark Twain’s obituary was mistakenly published in the New York Times, Twain sent a cable from London stating, "The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated."


MuskogeePolitico said...

As the national Republicans have proven, if Oklahoma Republicans don’t act like Republicans, the people will go another direction.


Steve Fair is a political activist. said...


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