State Democrats held a rally Saturday at the Stephens County fairgrounds in an effort to boost support for the coming primary and general elections.

The party has more to lose than gain in November’s election, as seven seats in the Senate are up for grabs, eight if one counts the special election for the seat held by Robert Kerr, who died recently. His wife, Robbie, is running for his seat.

Democrats hold a narrow margin in the Senate for now, and Republicans gained control of the House after the 2004 election.

Among the candidates who spoke at the rally was Scott Meacham, the state treasurer who is trying to retain his office.

Meacham gave a brief background about himself before speaking highly of the man who occupied the office before him, Duncan area native Robert Butkin.

“I believe Robert Butkin was the greatest treasurer we’ve ever had,” he said. “When he took control and cleaned the treasurer’s office of corruption, you didn’t hear much about him. If the state treasurer is doing his job, then you don’t hear much about the office.”

Meacham pointed to a list of Democrats running for statewide offices including labor commissioner, insurance commissioner and governor, saying the ticket is looking strong for his party.

“We have a wonderful slate of office holders running for their office again. The Republicans say they’re the party of family values, but we’re the party that values families.”

State Auditor Jeff McMahan, also running for re-election, described the Republican leadership as show horses, while calling his party the work horses.

“It’s time to elect the work horses and put the show horses out to pasture,” he said in summary.

The work horse theme continued with long time state Sen. Frank Shurden, who is running for labor commissioner. Shurden said that of the 28 years he served in the Legislature, he has only missed three days of sessions, and those days were for funerals.

He expressed his support of rural fire departments, saying “they have saved Oklahoma.”

Shurden closed his speech with pointed words for Republicans.

“If you haven’t heard enough Republican-isms by now, then there is something dead wrong with you.”

Another speaker was the chairperson of the state Democratic Party, Lisa Pryor, who also felt confident the Democrats would hold their statewide offices and retake both houses of Congress.

“The Republicans got a little taste of power when they took the House, and think they’re going to take the Senate. But they’re wrong,” Pryor said.

She went on to describe the opposing party as one that supports a culture of “lying, buying and spying” at the state and national level.

“(President) Bush’s approval rating is at 32 percent. That’s 32 degrees, and that’s freezing,” she said. “They say we’re liberals. You know what liberal means? It means generous.”

One of the Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor, Pete Regan, also spoke, saying he realized he was in Jari Askins’ “living room.” Askins is also running for the position.

Regan spoke of his work with Sen. David Boren on some past issues, then shifted the topic to the things he wants to accomplish if elected.

Among the main issues he said needed to be addressed are job training, where workers are needing to adopt new skills in a changing job landscape.

He also spoke of his support for increasing the minimum wage.

“If you want to work hard, you should get paid a decent wage,” he said.

And he said he would search for money to repair roads and bridges, saying that as many as eight bridges in Stephens County alone were originally built to withstand the Ford Model A.

Askins could not make it to the rally, so Sen. Daisy Lawler spoke on her behalf.

“Welcome to Jari-land,” Lawler said. “She has already proven herself, and I can attest to the fact that she is so respected at the Capitol.”

Lawler pointed out that Askins was the first woman in each of several positions — as officer at the state judiciary conference, chairperson of the Pardon and Parole Board, assistant majority floor leader and elected as the leader of her caucus.

“And she’ll be the first woman Democrat to be lieutenant governor,” Lawler said.

Lloyd Fields, running for labor commissioner, focused on his support of health insurance for all workers, calling it a business-friendly policy.

Linda Edmondson, speaking on behalf of her husband Attorney General Drew Edmondson, said it was important to re-elect her husband so that he may follow through with a lawsuit against Arkansas poultry companies accused of polluting the river that divides the two states.

Other speakers included a representative from Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland’s office, a representative from Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett’s office, and party Vice Chairman Ben Odom.

This Week's Circulars