Monday, November 17, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
IT STARTED IN STEPHENS COUNTY!
by Steve Fair
On Tuesday, newly elected Oklahoma state legislators were sworn into office. The 2015 state legislature will be made up of 40 Republicans and 8 Democrats in the Senate and 72 Republicans and 29 Democrats in the House. That is amazing, especially if you consider that just 8 years ago the State Senate had 24 of each Party, and the House was 57, Rs and 44 Ds. On Monday night, Senator Anthony Sykes, (R-Moore) called to thank me for helping him get elected the first time. “You are the reason I was sworn in the first time,” Sykes said. That was a kind thing to say, but the truth is the reason was more involved than that.
Election night 2006, Republicans weren’t faring very well across Oklahoma or the country. Oklahoma’s incumbent Governor Brad Henry cruised to victory with over 60% of the vote, Jari Askins won a close race for Lt. Governor over former Speaker of the House Todd Hiett, and Lloyd Fields beat incumbent Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau by less than 3,000 votes statewide. When the dust had settled, Democrats had won eight of the nine statewide races in Oklahoma. Nationally the Democrats picked up 6 seats in the Senate and 31 seats in the U.S. House. Congressman Tom Cole called the 2006 midterms, ‘a Democrat tsunami.’
In 2006, only three seats were picked up in the Oklahoma legislature- one in the Senate and two in the State House. Two were in tiny Stephens County, Oklahoma where Republicans were less than 30% of the registered voters. Anthony Sykes beat an incumbent state Senator and Dennis Johnson won an open seat for state House. In Muskogee County, George Faught won an open seat. Outside of Stephens County, Republicans in Oklahoma had little to celebrate.
Oklahoma is considered the reddest of the red states, because Oklahoma is the only state in America where every county in the state has voted for the Republican nominee for President the last three elections- 2004, 2008, 2012. Every statewide elected official is a Republican. Republicans have overwhelming majorities in the state legislature. Republicans are winning at the local level and dominated the 2014 election cycle, statewide, legislatively, and locally.
Interestingly, the growth of the Republican Party in Oklahoma hasn’t been in the large population centers in the state. In Oklahoma County and Tulsa County, voter affiliation percentage for Republicans is about the same as it was in 2006. The growth of the Republican Party in Oklahoma has been the smaller rural counties. In 2006, Republicans were the dominate Party in just nineteen counties, in 2014, it is 27 counties. Several other rural counties are rapidly trending Republican. But where did it start?
It all started in 2006 in Stephens County when two very qualified candidates for state legislature ran for office against incredible odds and won. They won because they worked hard, engaged voters and had great campaign teams helping them. They won because their volunteers were more concerned with changing their government than just changing who represented them. It wasn’t about the personalities- it was about the cause. These dedicated Republicans knocked doors, put out signs, made calls and encouraged their friends and neighbors to vote and on November 7th, Sykes and Johnson were elected. Sykes election knotted up the state Senate 24-24 and for two years, Republicans and Democrats shared control of the State Senate. That would not have happened if some dedicated people in Stephens County, Oklahoma didn’t think it was important enough to invest their time, talent and energy to get Sykes elected.
Today, it’s trendy to be a Republican in Oklahoma. It’s cool, but in 2006, having an R behind your name was a challenge for a candidate. There was no prominent Republican at the top of the ticket. Congressman Ernest Istook, the Republican candidate for Governor, got less than 35% of the vote. He was a drag on the ticket. So why did Sykes and Johnson win? They won because they were more qualified than their opponent and the voters recognized that. They won because they wanted the job more than their opponent, and they won because they had a volunteer base their opponents couldn’t match.
It’s important to remember how and a movement started. The Republican domination in Oklahoma didn’t start in the state’s urban areas. It didn’t start in the nineteen counties that were already predominately Republican. The Republican revolution in Oklahoma started in tiny Stephens County, Oklahoma when a handful of people believed they could make a difference in their little corner of the state by electing two very principled, ethical candidates and that movement spread statewide. Those Stephens County Republicans do more than just have an annual Fish Fry that draws a thousand people or a Chili Cook-off that attracts an equal amount. They change their government. Take a bow Stephens County Republicans- you changed and are changing Oklahoma for the better.
Monday, November 10, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
D’s WANT DO-OVER!
by Steve Fair
The 2014 elections are over and Republicans, local, statewide, and nationally, did well. It wasn’t a clean sweep, as I had predicted, but it was close. It is clear the election was about the Obama administrations failed policies and the American people are ready to give the GOP a chance to lead. The key will be for the Republican leadership in the House and Senate to do what they campaigned on- repeal Obama Care, secure the border and balance the budget. All too often campaign promises are forgotten when the election ends. If that happens this time, after the American people giving the Rs a chance to lead, GOP lawmakers will guarantee themselves a permanent minority status. They have to step up and take on the hard issues.
In Oklahoma, Republicans did exceptionally well. The R’s picked up four(4) state Senate seats and maintained their 72-29 margin in the state House. All four statewide offices up for election went Republican. The five Congressional races and two Senate races went overwhelmingly Republican. Republicans won local races throughout the state, so overall it was a very good night. But it seems the Democrats want a do-over in one race.
Earl Emmitt Everett, an 81 year old retired schoolteacher, was the Democrat nominee for the Second Congressional District in Oklahoma. Everett, a Korean War vet, died on Sunday November 2nd after a car wreck in Fort Gibson on Friday October 31st. Everett’s opponent, incumbent Congressman Mark Wayne Mullin, said, "My family and our entire team extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Earl Everett. We pray for God's grace and comfort for them during this time and in the coming weeks.” Everett had won the Democrat nomination in the district on his second try. He had little or no contact with the State Democrat Party. In an interview with the A.P., Everett had said, . “I don’t have anything against the party, but they’re a little bit out of pocket for me.”
After the November 4th election was over, one that Mullins won with over 70% of the vote, the State Democrat Party announced they were asking Attorney General Scott Pruitt for an opinion on whether they had a right to ask for a special election to be called. According to media accounts, the Democrat’s Executive Committee meet on Saturday November 8th to consider three people as their nominee if the A.G. agrees they are entitled to a do-over election.
Current Oklahoma state law says that in the event of a candidate’s death before an election, the governor is to set a special election. Evidently, the leaders of the deceased’s political Party are allowed to name a replacement nominee and ask for a special election. But it remains unclear if that ‘special’ election has to be called before a scheduled election is held (which was done in this case). The cost estimates to hold a special election for the 2nd district are $350-375,000 of tax dollars.
Why would state law allow the will of 150,000 voters in the Second District on November 4th be cast aside? That doesn’t make any sense. Voters in the Second District overwhelmingly voted to re-elect Congressman Mullin. While it’s highly unlikely he would be defeated in a special election, why would the 100k plus people who voted for Mullins last Tuesday be disenfranchised? If the law is this vague, then it needs to be changed. If the Ds are just using a loophole to get a do-over election, they should be ashamed. Another election would cost taxpayers a lot of money that could be used in areas like education, pension funding, etc.
Why would Democrats want a do-over? They were humiliated at the polls statewide and in the Second Congressional District on November 4th. It is highly unlikely whoever they nominate will beat Mullin, or even come close. Demanding the taxpayers pay for a $350K election just because it can be done is foolhardy, irresponsible and graphically illustrates how out of touch the Democrats are with the people.
The Democrat Party leadership should take the high road and withdraw their request for an Attorney .General’s opinion and let the results of the November 4th election stand.
Monday, November 3, 2014
Weekly Opinion Editorial
YELLING ON THE SIDELINES!
By Steve Fair
The Oklahoma State Election Board has released the latest figures on voter affiliation in the state. As of November 1st, there are just 2,897 more registered Democrats in Oklahoma than Republicans. Since January 1st, Democrats have lost 1,459 voters statewide while Republicans have gained 26,924. The number of voters registering Independent increased 18,175 since the first of the year. Currently 12.7% of the voters in Oklahoma are registered Independent, up from 12.1% January 1st.
In Stephens County, Republicans continue to gain on the Democrats. Since January 1st, Republicans gained 428 voters, Democrats lost 275 and Independents picked up 223 voters. Of the 25,069 registered voters in the county, 12,053 are registered Democrats, 10,403 are Republican and 2,613 are Independent. The gap between the Ds and the Rs in the county is now just 1,650. Less than twenty years ago, that was 14,000.
Republicans have come a long way in Oklahoma. In 1996, voters registering Republican were just 34.2% statewide. That number is now 43.5%. In Stephens County, in 1996, just 21% of the voters were Republican. That number is now 41.5%. If trends continue, Oklahomans will align with the way they vote well before the 2016 election cycle. How did Oklahoma transition from being a strong Democrat state to Republican?
First, the Democrat Party abandoned their values. For years, the Democrat Party was one that advocated for traditional moral values and stood up for the ‘little man,’ but after Roe vs. Wade, they became liberal on social issues and alienated many of their conservative voters. In recent years, the liberal fringe of the Democrat Party has taken over the national Party. The national Democrat platform opposes the second amendment (the right to keep and bear arms), embraces abortion and same sex marriage. Those are important issues to conservative Oklahomans and when the Ds took that stance, it drove a bunch of them to the Republican Party. In recent years, the Oklahoma Democrat Party claims they are much more conservative on issues such as gun control and abortion than the national Party, but when you go to the State Democrat Party website and click on issues, it refers you to the liberal national Democrat Party platform.
Second, Republicans took a stand on traditional social issues. They opposed abortion on demand and supported traditional marriage. They re-affirmed their support of the second amendment. All of these positive moves attracted the conservative Democrat and they begin to change Party affiliation in droves.
The amazing statistic in Oklahoma is the number of Independents. Over 257,000 people are registered Independent in Oklahoma- 12.7% of the total number of registered voters. That number continues to grow. Voters registering Independent has increased by 18K since the first of the year. Why register to vote as an Independent in Oklahoma? The state has ‘closed’ primaries, which means only those who are registered in a Party can participate in that Parties’ primary elections and that is the way it should be. Republicans should select the Republican nominee. Democrats should select the Democrat nominee. Open primaries are like having the Presbyterians vote on who will pastor the Baptist church. It’s like letting the Rotarians decide what community project the Lions are going to do this year. The concept is asinine and doesn’t make any sense.
Some states have ‘open’ primaries and let voters decide which primary they want to vote in when they show up at the polling location. The ‘open’ primary system is one that encourages people to ‘play’ with their vote. A voter from another Party can vote for the weakest candidate in the opposing Party to insure a victory for their candidate in the general election. That happened in Michigan in 2012, when Democrats swarmed the polls to vote for Rick Santorum over Mitt Romney to hurt his changes to gain the GOP nomination. Bottom line, registering Independent in a state with an ‘open’ primary makes some sense, but not in Oklahoma.
Many of those registered Independent in Oklahoma are simply feed up with both Parties and want to send a message of discontent to both Parties, but the fact is they are cut out of the process. Conservative Independents should consider changing their Party affiliation to Republican where they can vote in the primary. Standing on the sidelines yelling at those playing is not participating in the process.