Tuesday, April 15, 2014
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!
Weekly Opinion Editorial
By Steve Fair
At 5pm Friday, the filing period for the 2014 election closed. 578 candidates filed at the State Capitol. In addition to the two U.S. Senate races, five congressional races and ten statewide races, all district judges and associate district judges were up for re-election. All 27 District Attorneys across Oklahoma are also up for re-election. So are all 101 members of the State House and 24 members of the State Senate. Hundreds more filed for county offices across Oklahoma. Each county in the state has four offices up for election- two county commissioners, the county assessor and the county treasurer.
For the first time since 2002, a statewide elected official failed to draw an opponent. Three Republican statewide elected officials- Gary Jones, State Auditor & Inspector, Scott Pruitt, Attorney General, and Ken Miller, State Treasurer were returned to office without facing an opponent. That is unprecedented. One U.S. Congressman, Rep. Jim Bridenstein, (R-Tulsa), a Republican, did not draw an opponent.
A seat on the Corporation Commission and the Insurance Commissioner races will be determined in the Republican primary June 24th since no Democrat filed. This is going to be an interesting election cycle in the state. Three observations concerning the upcoming elections in Oklahoma;
First, it is apparent the Democrat Party in Oklahoma is struggling to find viable willing candidates to seek office. When freshman legislators are returned to office without opposition that says something about the opposing Party. Normally, a freshman will always face opposition in their first re-election bid. Either the Democrats have no recruiting mechanism or they have given up the fight and conceded they can’t win in Oklahoma. During the long days of yesterday, Republican leaders would recruit, equip, and train candidates to at least challenge the Party in power. Many of those Republican candidates knew going in they were nothing more than a sacrificial lamb, but their willingness to put their name on the ballot blazed a trail for the GOP in Oklahoma.
Second, it really says a great deal about the job the three statewides are doing if no one in Oklahoma believes they can beat you. To file unopposed is a conformation of your job performance. You are more than meeting expectations. Congratulations!
Third, perhaps the Democrat strategy is to keep their powder dry until 2018. In 2010, Oklahoma voters approved 8 year term limits for statewide elected officials. Virtually all the statewides will term out in 2018, so perhaps the Ds are telling viable candidates to wait until the seats are open. Who knows, but one thing is certain- 2014 will be a big Republican year in Oklahoma, in part because the Ds conceded it.
Fourth, Republicans shouldn’t let this give us the big head. It has taken over 100 years for Republicans to gain control of Oklahoma government, but we must be aware of what John Dalburg-Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” With power comes responsibility. May God give Republicans the grace and humility to lead rightly.
Filing for office is the easy part of the political process. Now the fun starts. Between now and June 24, Republican candidates will be knocking your door, sending you cards and letters, and calling you to attempt to get your vote. Campaigns cost money- they will be asking you for money. Campaigns need volunteers- they will be asking you to help them. Because two statewide offices will be decided in the Republican primary, citizens registered Republican will be solicited more than the Democrats.Every citizen should be involved in the political process. Whether it is by volunteering in a campaign, donating money or just voting, every citizen should be engaged. Don’t be a lazy voter who bases their voting decision on likability or a thirty second sound bite. While it’s desirable elected officials are likable and approachable to their constituents, how they vote and the decisions they make after they are elected is much more important than their likability. Good citizens should always base their vote and support on substance. Question the candidates and make a point to know where they stand on the issues. Let the games begin!