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May 28, 2014

Primary lingers in the distance

DUNCAN — The primary is just three weeks away and it appears the GOP side of the election will have three races that are going to be barn burners.  The spotlight is on the race for the unexpired term for U.S. Senate.  Congressman James Lankford from Oklahoma City, Rep. T.W. Shannon from Lawton, former State Senator Randy Brogdon from Tulsa, Kevin Crow, PhD, from Chickasha, Andy Ewing from Muskogee and a couple of others are running for the seat Dr. Tom Coburn has held since 2004.  But that’s not the only race on the June 24th ballot.  Two Republicans are running for a position on the Corporation Commission.  Sen. Cliff Branan from Nichols Hills, and former House Speaker Todd Hiett are vying for the seat.  The winner of the primary will fill the six year term because no Democrat filed.  

Current Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas from Edmond chose not to seek re-election to run for Lankford’s Congressional seat.  She joins former State Senator Col. Steve Russell from Midwest City, Rep. Mike Turner and Sen. Clark Jolley from Edmond, and Harvey Sparks. Tom Guild, and former State Rep. Shane Jett round out the crowded field.

In the U.S. Senate race and the 5th Congressional races, it’s very likely a primary runoff will be held.  In the runoff, held on August 26th, the top two vote getters in the primary face off.  Oklahoma voters have very often have made the candidate who finished second in the primary the winner in the runoff.  Take for example former Governor Brad Henry.  He finished second to Vince Orza in the primary, but won the runoff and ultimately was elected Governor.  Lankford finished second in the crowed Congressional primary in 2008 and won the runoff.  Primary runoffs are an interesting dynamic.  It’s all about getting voters to the polls and the campaign that does the best in that effort wins.

The deadline to change Party affiliation and vote in the June 24th primary has past.  It was March 31st.  Oklahoma voters can’t change Party affiliation between April 1st and August 31st in an election year but those citizens who are not registered voters have until May 31st to get registered.  You can download the forms at the Oklahoma State Election Board website or you can pick up a form at the local election board or at the Post Office and mail it in.

Faithful primary voters are an interesting lot.  When you consider that only about 65% of registered voters really vote and less than half of those(29%) consistently vote in a primary election, it’s clear that a clear minority of the population in America are electing our leaders.  In a country that was founded on self-government, it seems absurd that a citizen wouldn’t think voting is important, but many in our country believe their vote doesn’t matter.  That’s why faithful voters are courted by candidates like a pretty girl like a barn dance.  Their mail box is full of campaign material touting their ‘conservative’ credentials and their ability to lead.  TV Commercials paint a picture of candidates that make them seem almost saint like and their political accomplishments superhuman.

Sadly, few modern campaigns really want to talk about real issues.  The reason is the average voter doesn’t want to hear about issues.  Most Americans just want to see clever campaign slogans and cool family photos.  Issues are secondary.  That is precisely why we have the government we have.  It’s why we have elected officials who are beholden to special interests and their big donor base and pay no attention to the folks.  It’s because most people aren’t paying attention to issues.  But those pesky faithful primary voters are different.  As a whole, they are more engaged and more informed.  They look past the fluff and try to discern substance in candidates.  They present a challenge to the shallow candidate and a delight to the substantive one.  And don’t get me started on those primary run-off voters- ten percent of the population-even more rare.

If you just vote because you feel obiligated and are not paying attention, then shame on you.  You need to do your homework.  It’s your government and the reason we are in this mess is because most Americans could care less about government most of the time.  Wake up- take some equity in your government for your kids and grandkids.

To that end- on Friday June 6th, the Oklahoma Republican Party will sponsor a U.S. Senate candidate forum at Cameron University.  It will be held from 7-8:30pm.  The public is invited to attend.  For information go to okgop.com or call 405.528.3501..

Steve Fair is National Committeeman for the Oklahoma Republican Party.  He can be reached by phone at 580.252.6284 or by email at okgop@aol.com.  His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com.  

 

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