Tags: Oklahoma

Oklahoma Senate Race Is More Complicated Than ‘Tea Party vs. Establishment’


Oklahoma’s Republican primary to replace retiring Senator Tom Coburn has some of the hallmarks of a tea-party insurgency: Representative James Lankford started as the favorite of House speaker John Boehner and Republican voters alike, while former state-house speaker T. W. Shannon surged into contention with the support of tea-party icons Sarah Palin, Senator Ted Cruz (R., Texas), and Senator Mike Lee (R., Utah).

With that cast of characters, it’s easy to view this race as yet another theater in the so-called Republican civil war, as FiveThirtyEight does.

“Before being elected in the tea party wave of 2010, Lankford was the camp director of the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center. He rose to the fifth-highest position in the House leadership and is seen as the more establishment candidate in the race. Lankford compromised on the debt ceiling in 2011 and 2013, though not in 2014. He has the backing of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, among others,” Harry Enten writes. “And where Lankford could be regarded as willing to make deals, Shannon is as pure on principal as they come.”

Shannon has provided some additional reason to look at the race that way — his denunciation of Lankford’s votes to raise the debt ceiling harks back to the tea-party fight with congressional leadership in 2011.

Enten writes that “many tea party groups in Oklahoma haven’t endorsed either candidate,” noting that the local groups tend to back former state senator Randy Brogdon. That fact contains a hint that Republican primary voters in the state have a complicated view of the race. Anecdotal evidence from two days here in the state tends to confirm that hypothesis.

First of all, Lankford’s conservative credentials here are pretty good. The Senate Conservatives Fund called him out as unreliable early in the race, but the voters I talked to regard him as generally solid.

“They’re both just such great candidates,” Debra Wimpee, a Shannon supporter, told National Review Online at a rotary club meeting in Broken Arrow, Okla. Brian O’Hara, a field representative for Representative Jim Bridenstine (SCF’s preferred candidate until he refused to run) said that voters throughout the first congressional district tell him the same thing.

“[Lankford and Shannon are] giving their vision which is, quite frankly, a very similar vision,” O’Hara said after the meeting. “Your rank-and-file, and that’s who I deal with mainly, they’re looking at this very logically. They’re saying, ok, on both sides, they believe they’re both very conservative…The grassroots, the people that I speak to say, both men can do the job.”

Keep reading this post . . .

Tags: Oklahoma

T.W. Shannon Hits James Lankford on Young Illegal Immigrant Influx


Tulsa, Okla. – President Obama designated Fort Sill, Okla., as one of the military installations that would house the surge of young illegal immigrants coming to the United States, and the decision could be a factor in the homestretch of another Republican primary, just two weeks after immigration helped sink House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, (R., Va.).

Former House Speaker T.W. Shannon has primarily faulted Representative James Lankford for voting to raise the debt-ceiling, but the recent spate of border crossings by minors has given him another weapon to use against his campaign to replace retiring Senator Tom Coburn.

“[Lankford] said that he supports a pathway to citizenship; he said it for juveniles,” Shannon told National Review Online after talking to patrons of Steak Stuffs, a local sandwich shop. “Well, when you compare the crisis that’s happening five miles from my house in Lawton at Fort Sill with the illegals that have come across our border and are now being housed there, I think part of the reason is is because we’ve sent a message from Washington D.C. is that we welcome illegal immigrants who are children when you talk about a  pathway to citizenship. So, I think that’s a distinction between us.”

For his part, Shannon supported a bill that made it a felony for someone to transport illegal immigrants in the state while knowing of their immigration status, according to Vote SmartThe bill also had provisions to discourage businesses from hiring illegal immigrants, among other things. Shannon made the comment after an appearance at the Broken Arrow Rotary Club, where a man took the opportunity to remind an aide to Representative Jim Bridenstine that he opposes amnesty.

“Immigration is definitely an issue [in Tulsa] because we’re sitting at the crossroads of I-35 and I-40,” Jenni White, an activist with ties among conservatives around the state due to her time leading the successful fight to repeal Common Core in the state, explained to NRO. “We have human trafficking here badly [and] drug smuggling and immigrants coming through all the time.”

Lankford criticized Obama when the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s decision to send some of the young illegal immigrants to Fort Sill. “The recent, single-year influx of unaccompanied minors from foreign countries into the United States is a direct result of President Obama’s policies of encouraging amnesty and failing to enforce existing immigration laws,” the congressman said.

Shannon argues that Lankford’s willingness to consider citizenship for young people – ”I separate a 2-year-old who was brought over with a parent from a parent who violated the law,” Lankford said a year ago — also creates the problem.

“Particularly as this deal has heated up in Lawton, people are saying ‘how did we get here? Why has Washington D.C. failed us once again?’” he said. ”And it’s clear that because we have not secured our border, and because we have not reformed our welfare system in Washington D.C., it’s clear that we created an atmosphere that encourages this type of behavior from many governments that are encouraging their citizens to come into our country illegally.”

Although his immigration stance might endear him to the kinds of Tea Party voters who helped Dave Brat defeat Cantor, Shannon also emphasized that he has the support of several recent state Chamber of Commerce presidents because they understand that he was a “pro-business” House speaker.

“Most of us in Oklahoma were Tea Party long before it became cool, and will continue to be. And so, this idea that there are two Republican parties — I reject that notion,” Shannon said. “For me, as a conservative, I don’t think that that means being anti-business, which I think is usually what boils down when you talk about what has been created as kind of this rift between the conservative party, grassroots versus kind of business interests. I don’t accept that. I’ve never been comfortable with the title that you have to be one or the other.”

Brat struck a different note during his campaign. “Big business gets the cheap labor and the American people pay the tab,” he said of current immigration overhauls. The national Chamber of Commerce supports the immigration bill championed by Senator Lindsay Graham and others.

Shannon said there’s no tension between his pro-business views and opposition to amnesty. “Most businesspeople I know still respect the rule of law,” he told NRO. ”I think most people I know still believe that having a secure border is a national security issue. And so, I don’t buy into this idea that we have to somehow disregard the rule of law to keep business happy. That’s not what I hear from the business community.”

Tags: Illegal Immigration , Immigration Reform , Oklahoma

If You Can Motivate Republicans in Uncompetitive States . . .


Back on October 26, I wrote that barring some change, Mitt Romney would win the popular vote. Of course, that was one hurricane/super-storm Sandy ago.

One of the criteria I cited for that assertion was Romney polling better than McCain in both deep-blue states and deep-red states. No one really expects states like California, Connecticut, Arkansas, and Oklahoma to perform any differently than they usually do, but in each of these states, trends like this put Romney closer to a national popular-vote victory. Of course, as Al Gore can tell you, that kind of victory gets you a cup of coffee at Starbucks — as long as you have a few dollars on you.

A reader in Oklahoma reports:

Here in Oklahoma, where Obama failed to carry a single county in 2008, and where the few polls anyone has bothered with indicate he will have a hard time breaking 33% this year, you would think that voters would be in taking it for granted mode. Other than the presidential race, there is not much on the statewide ballot to draw people to the polls — no U.S. Senate race, no race for any statewide office, with the only really contested race in the second Congressional district, where Mark Wayne Mullin is likely to pick up retiring Democrat Dan Boren’s seat. Democrats are so dispirited here that they failed to even field candidates for two offices on the state Corporation Commission this year, and the GOP is sure to hold and expand its lopsided legislative majorities. So there doesn’t seem to be anything likely to drive a high turnout. Yet the state election board at midday reported turnout as high or higher than in 2008. I waited in line for 90 minutes at my Oklahoma City precinct and was number 777 to vote at 1 p.m., with more coming in all the time. The crowd looked very Republican, as is the neighborhood — white, middle aged and up. Romney backers here know he will carry Oklahoma with one of the highest percentages in the nation, but they are still turning out in big numbers to be part of it.


Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax says heavy voter turnout is being reported statewide and voters are reporting waits of an hour to an hour.5 to cast their ballots. Polls are open until at 7 p.m. Tuesday for the general election and Ziriax says long lines were being reported at precincts statewide as voters waited to cast their ballots. Ziriax said no technical problems have been reported. He said the turnout is “on track” to be the largest since the last presidential election in 2008 when about 67% of voters cast ballots.

If you can motivate Republicans to turn out in non-competitive states, you ought to be able to motivate Republicans to turn out in competitive states, no?

Tags: Oklahoma

28,599 to 313. This One’s Not Going to Overtime.


It’s Oklahoma, where the only question is whether Rep. Dan Boren, perhaps the most conservative Democrat in Congress, wins by a slightly smaller margin than usual. But the number itself looks like a typo:

OKLAHOMA CITY — The number of registered Republicans in Oklahoma continues to increase, closing the gap on the advantage Democrats have enjoyed for years.

The Oklahoma Election Board reported Friday that Republicans have seen a net increase of 28,599 registered voters since Jan. 15, compared to a net increase of 313 for Democrats. The number of registered independents increased by more than 11,000.

Tags: Oklahoma

How to Win as a Blue Dog in ‘10


Over on the home page, I examine why Rep. Dan Boren (D., Okla.) is safe this year, even as fellow Blue Dogs like Chet Edwards (D., Texas) are fighting for political survival.

Tags: Oklahoma

The Coming Extinction of Oklahoma Democrats


I had a chance to watch Rep. Dan Boren (D., Okla.) speak at the NRA convention, and I can see why a lot of conservatives and a lot of Republicans like him. Duncan Currie wrote a bit about how he thrives as a Democrat in deeply conservative Oklahoma. Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that a man plausibly labeled “the most conservative Democrat in Congress” still votes to make Nancy Pelosi speaker of the House every cycle. A Republican in the same seat would vote essentially the same, and put the Democrats one step closer to a minority.

But Boren is phenomenally popular . . . or at least he was. Yet that party affiliation might be enough to give him real trouble this year.

Pat McFerron, director of survey research at Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates, and the “Sooner Survey” offers these thoughts:

The 2010 election cycle is shaping up to be unlike any in state history. While some want to compare it to the 1994 election that saw Republicans in the Sooner State make significant gains in statewide and congressional contests, the data we see today reveals that, in Oklahoma at least, 1994 could ultimately be seen as a tremor quake compared to seismic changes that could happen in 2010. While Barack Obama’s unpopularity certainly is a factor in the expected Republican gains, it is my belief that this change is much more fundamental. The real change in Oklahoma is that voters no longer see a significant difference between the Oklahoma Democratic Party and the National Democratic Party. Oklahoma voters see both the local (47% too liberal) and national (59% too liberal) Democratic parties as “too liberal.” Even among registered Democrats, 45% see their national party as too liberal – and 32% see their state party as being too far to the left. Among the critical swing voting bloc of registered Democrats who say they are a conservative (54% of all Democrats) 45% say their national party is too liberal, and 48% say the state party is too liberal.

. . . Clearly, to these conservative Democrats – Democrats who elected David Boren, Dave McCurdy, Glenn English, Wes Watkins and others – are abandoning their party at a rapid pace; a pace that has accelerated dramatically since the election of Barack Obama. As historians and political observers are aware, Oklahoma has voted Republican on the Presidential election every four years beginning in 1968. Beginning in 1980, Oklahoma has filled every open Republican U.S. Senate seat with a Republican, and in 1994, began sending a majority Republican congressional delegation. Now, in 2010, one can expect Oklahoma to cement its Republican leanings in statewide secondary contests and at the legislative level.

This decisive movement of Oklahoma voters from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party is also evident in that we have seen a dramatic change in our generic ballot for state legislative contests. Whereas for years, the margin has generally been only a couple of points advantage for each party, today (and confirmed for three times in one of our statewide surveys) we see a 20-point Republican advantage. Key Facts Mary Fallin holds 22 point leads in general election match-ups against both Drew Edmondson and Jari Askins. Democrats that consider themselves to be conservatives (representing 54% of all of the state’s Democrats) believe both the state and the national Democratic Parties are “too liberal”. Oklahoma voters, particularly swing Democrats, no longer distinguish between the National Democratic Party and the Oklahoma Democratic Party. With a Republican advantage of 20 points, the generic legislative ballot is 16 points greater than any we have recorded in any past election cycle.

. . . While there are still months to go, it is very clear that 2010 should be a Republican year in Oklahoma. With redistricting just around the corner, and the fact that this shift appears to be a fundamental shift along ideological lines as opposed to being based on personalities, one is left to ponder if there is a longterm future for the Democratic Party in Oklahoma other than to fill the minority party role of watchdog, and only winning significant races in the case of scandal or other unusual circumstances. Given the data we have today, that seems the most likely outcome.

Tags: Dan Boren , Oklahoma

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