Weekly Opinion Editorial
LOVE TO HATE
by Steve Fair
There has always been a love/hate relationship between Oklahoma and
Texas and it goes beyond the annual OU/Texas Red River rivalry. When it became a state in 1845, Texas had to
give up some of its land to Oklahoma territory.
That’s why the Sooner state has a panhandle. A half century later (1896), Greer County,
Texas was taken from Texas and given to Oklahoma, after it was determined the
Red River’s true stream was not the north fork flow.
A dispute between the two states in 1931 was over a toll bridge at the
Red River between Colbert, OK and Denison, TX resulted in a war. The quarrel resulted in Oklahoma Governor ‘Alfalfa
Bill” Murray declaring martial law and sending the Oklahoma National Guard to
prevent Texans from entering the state. Murray
showed up at the bridge site armed with a revolver. Texas
Governor Ross Sterling sent Texas Rangers to the bridge to defend Texas highway
workers. Eventually the dispute was
settled, but it is still known as the ‘Red River Bridge War.’
In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Texas efforts to build a
pipeline to import water from Oklahoma. The
clashes between the two states are ongoing. Oklahoma historian Bob Blackburn
describes the two state’s relationship as a swaggering boastful big brother
(Texas) clashing with an accomplished but self-conscious little brother
(Oklahoma). Three observations:
First, both states are growing in population. Texas has grown +16% in population the past
decade- Oklahoma +6%. Many of those relocating
to Texas/Oklahoma are fleeing liberal states because of politics. They seek
more conservative, traditional values in their government. But a conservative Republican in California
is often a moderate in Oklahoma and Texas.
That could change the political
landscape in both states.
Second, some are fleeing Texas.
Texas experienced a surge in popularity during COVID, which drove up
housing prices by 30%. Many Californians moved to the Lone Star state
because housing was less than in California. They didn’t factor in Texas’ high
property tax, but many are moving back to Cally. Nearly 500,000 people have left Texas in the
past two years. During that period, the
state experienced a net gain of 200,000 in spite of those exiting. Many
of those leaving cite the ‘too conservative’ politics in Texas as the reason
they are departing.
Third, migration could change the two states’ politics/voting from red to
purple. Statewide elected officials in
both states are all Republicans. The GOP
controls both state legislatures. Oklahoma’s
federal delegation (5 House/2 Senate) is all Republican. Texas’s federal delegation is mixed. It has 38 seats in the House and 13 are
Democrat. The Democrats have gained 5
seats in the last decade. The Ds represent
urban areas of the state. Much like
Oklahoma, the larger population area residents are not as conservative as their
rural counterparts. Expect that trend to
happen in the Sooner state.
Oklahoma and Texas have a great deal of shared history. They share a reliance on the agriculture and
energy sectors in common. The two state’s political values and governing
are similar. Citizens in both states
love to hate the other in sport’s rivalries.
The truth is the two states have much in common, including a real threat
to their political identity from newcomers.
Georgia was once a reliable Republican stronghold, but today has four
statewide Democrat elected officials. Oklahomans
and Texans should guard their conservative values or they will see the same
thing happen in their state.