The national outlook for the Republican Party in 2010 is excellent, and the state with the bleakest Democratic prospects could be Oklahoma. Five months out from election day, the polls are indicating a strong electoral cyclone is about to sweep the state. President Obama’s approval rating has declined to 34% in the well respected Sooner Poll, and his cap and trade proposal is especially unpopular in this energy producing state.
Politicians in both Oklahoma parties are saying cap and trade would be devastating to jobs and state revenues. They also emphasize it will be bad consumers because of increased utility rates, and it would be a hard hit on the states largest employer, the oil and gas industry.
The Democratic Party’s Success on the State Level
Democrats have done well on the state level in Oklahoma but this year they will be vacating the offices of Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer and Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is entirely possible they will lose every one of those positions.
The former Democratic state auditor is now in jail for corruption and his Democratic successor is running against the former state GOP Chairman. Because of term limits, Gov. Brad Henry (D) is stepping down after eight years and is leaving behind a huge deficit.
Gov. Henry inflicted two bitter defeats on the GOP in 2002 and 2006. He initially won a narrow upset victory over Rep. Steve Largent (R), a rising star of the Christian right, and four years later he received 66% of the vote to soundly defeat Rep. Ernest Istook (R).
2010 Democratic Gubernatorial Primary
The survey data for the July 27th Democratic gubernatorial primary shows a very close race. Attorney General Drew Edmondson will face Lt. Gov. Jari Askins. Edmondson was first elected in 1994. His father was a Member of Congress and his uncle was elected Governor in 1958. Edmondson has appeared before liberal groups such as Moveon.org and has said the Democratic path to victory is not on the right wing.
Edmondson refuses to join other state Attorney Generals who are challenging the Obama health care reform law. In 2000, he successfully sued the Boy Scouts of America to force them to accept homosexual scout leaders. The decision was later overturned by the Supreme Court.
Jari Askins, an attorney, succeeded Fallin as Lt. Governor by defeating GOP House Speaker Todd Heit in the 2006 election. Previously she was a state representative for 12 years, the maximum time allowed. During her final term she was the House Democratic Leader, where she frequently sparred with Speaker Heit.
The Republican Party’s Success on the Federal Level
John McCain in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2004 both received 66% of the Oklahoma vote. The Democrats did not even carry one county in the presidential race. Republicans hold both U.S. Senate seats, and four out of five of its House seats.
In 2008, for the first time since statehood, the GOP won control of the Oklahoma Senate. They captured the state House of Representatives for the first time in 80 years in 2004.
The Unstoppable Mary Fallin
Mary Fallin was Lt. Governor for the 12 years prior to her 2006 election to the U.S. Congress. She is best known for her efforts to enact the state’s right-to-work law in 2001, and this has increased the employment outlook. When Democrats had control of the State Senate, Fallin was instrumental in pushing a filibuster which resulted in a recorded vote demonstrating the Democrats were in opposition to Right-to-Work. As a result of the legislative defeat, Fallin helped to organize a successful ballot initiative. She was not the only person advocating Right-to-Work, but she was the most visible.
Fallin’s lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is 96% and she also receives impressive scores from other conservative, anti-tax and budget cutting organizations. The best news she received this year was when former Rep. J.C. Watts decided not to challenge her in a primary. One poll of primary voters had Watts in the lead.
According to yesterday’s Sooner Poll, Fallin has a huge 59% to 10% lead over State Senator Randy Brogdon in the GOP primary. Bragdon was elected in 2002 and is supported primarily by libertarians. He is active in the John Birch Society, advocates a states rights platform, and refers to himself as a “constitutional conservative.”
He talks of “the threat of the North American Union and the NAFTA Superhighway,” neither of which exists. Brogdon’s major criticism of Fallin concerns her support for the Bush’s administration’s TARP program to save the banking system after the September 2008 Wall Street collapse.
In the general election according to the Sooner Poll, Rep. Fallin is leading Attorney General Edmondson 50% to 35% and she leads Lt. Gov. Jari Askins 49% to 35%.