Does the Whirled know from a good Republican?


The Tulsa Whirled editorial board has revealed their pick in next Tuesday's winner-take-all Republican primary to fill Hopper Smith's place in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for District 67 in south Tulsa. To no one's surprise, they passed over the best candidate, the candidate with the best working relationship with elected officials and grass roots Republicans -- about her, more later.

The Whirled editorial board, which consists of pro-abortion, pro-corporate-welfare liberals, made their endorsement. I don't know if their chosen candidate shares their views on contentious social and economic issues -- sometimes the Whirled endorses good people, like Steve Largent and John Sullivan, even if they seem to be biting their collective tongue as they do. (In my interview with the board, I was assured that they sometimes endorse "anti-choice" candidates.)

The Whirled editorial cites their candidate's ties to local minor league sports, public schools, and the Chamber of Commerce as the major selling points. It's interesting that he is not described as a conservative.

Should Republican voters trust the Whirled's endorsement?

Let's look at a very similar election nearly two years ago: The race to replace John Sullivan in House District 71. This race also featured a crowded Republican field in a strongly Republican district. Two of the candidates were party activists, well-known to the grassroots. The primary wasn't quite winner-take-all -- a Democrat filed -- but winning the primary in District 71 is tantamount to winning the election.

The Whirled endorsed Chad Stites in their March 8, 2002, edition. If you believe the Whirled carefully investigates the candidates before making an endorsement, read the second paragraph carefully:

Stites, 44, is a native Tulsan, graduated from Claremore High School and attended the University of Tulsa and Southern Nazarene University. He owns Appraisers of Tulsa, a statewide real estate appraisal service. He is a family man, active in church and community.

Like the other candidates in the race, Stites shares the solid conservative values that are so important to Republican voters. In addition, he has the even-keel temperament needed to work with legislators on both sides of the political spectrum.

I love the assurance that Stites is a solid conservative. Keep in mind that Janet Pearson frequently makes the following argument, frequently enough that I call it Pearson's Syllogism: Nixon favored X, Nixon was a conservative, therefore conservatives are inconsistent and hypocritical if they don't favor X, too.

Stites won a narrow victory, getting only 34% in the first-past-the-post primary. In all likelihood, the Whirled's editorial moved enough undecided votes to tip the election his way. A few weeks later, the Whirled went on to endorse Stites against Democrat Roy McClain (April 2, 2002):

Both Stites and McClain are attractive candidates -- bright, articulate and well-versed on issues of interest to voters. Stites' experience, which includes operating a small business and being actively involved in community and church, makes him the best choice. He has all the tools to be an effective legislator.

Not many months later we were treated to an audio clip of Stites' even-keel temperament on display in a career-ending phone call to a city employee. The Whirled was kind enough to post the clip on the free part of their website, although I don't believe they ever apologized for steering Republican voters wrong in the special election.

The Whirled editorial board seems to listen to a very select subset of Republicans, and the people they listen to -- people like former City Councilor John Benjamin -- aren't in touch with the grassroots any more, if they ever were. Despite this, the Whirled's endorsement still pulls weight with some voters -- people who aren't engaged in the political process, but they vote religiously, and when in doubt they will vote the way the Whirled tells them to vote. In a narrow race with many undecided until the last minute, their influence could tip the balance.

So, you conservative Republicans who live in House District 67, do you trust the Tulsa Whirled editorial board to tell you who can best represent you and your views in Oklahoma City?

UPDATE: Chad Stites is back in the news.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 10, 2004 12:14 AM.

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