Medlock, Harper endorse LaFortune

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At a midday press conference on Thursday at Tulsa County Republican Headquarters, Chris Medlock announced his endorsement of Mayor Bill LaFortune for re-election. Brigitte Harper, who finished fourth in the GOP mayoral primary, sent a statement of endorsement as well. Randi Miller, who finished third, told KRMG news that she didn't intend to make an endorsement.

There's been a fair amount of outrage over this, some from Medlock's supporters, but most of it from people who didn't support him in the first place. Over on the TulsaNow forum, in response to someone who said my head would explode over the endorsement, I wrote this:

My head hasn't exploded, and it won't. Every Tulsan who backed Medlock, Miller, or McCorkell has to decide who will get his or her vote in the general election. Staying home is an option, too, but in the absence of polling data showing high undecideds and Faulk above 20%, I believe that either LaFortune or Taylor will be the next mayor. So those are our options.

Medlock has concluded that a chastened LaFortune who is no longer beholden to the World and the Chamber (because they've abandoned him for Taylor), combined with a strong reform-minded Council, is better for the city than Taylor's management-by-intimidation style and the return of Susan Savage's crew.

Of course, there are no guarantees that LaFortune will follow through on his commitment to clean house and change his ways, but there are some things he could do right away to show that he is in earnest about change. Foremost is to pull the reappointments of Hill and Jackson to the TMAPC and appoint some neighborhood/new urbanist minded replacements. He could also dissolve his commission on city government, or else allow the councilors to appoint members to that body. He could endorse the charter changes on the April 4 ballot. He could announce that he will put the city's convention and tourism contract up for competitive bid this year. In a nutshell, he has to show he's willing to cross the very interests he says he is no longer beholden to.

You'll never vote for a perfect candidate, and sometimes you don't even have a good choice, but you still have a choice to make. Medlock has made his choice, and it's not an unreasonable one.

Medlock will be on KFAQ tomorrow morning at 7:40.

To those Medlock supporters who are screaming "Betrayal!" over this decision, I want you to think about what he and his family have endured over the last three years. He stood on principle and was attacked for it, and nevertheless he held his ground. He ran against his party's incumbent. When he was pressured to drop out and make way for Randi Miller, he stayed in. He didn't make an endorsement the day after the primary. I think he has earned the benefit of the doubt.

Way back in 1976, Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination. Ford was ineffective in both domestic and foreign policy, and Reagan was blistering in his criticism of Ford's competence. Nowadays, we'd call Ford a RINO -- a Republican in name only -- although back then, before the influx of Reagan conservatives into the party's grassroots, Ford's support of Keynesian economics, détente, and abortion were pretty mainstream.

Reagan stayed in the race all the way to the Republican National Convention. He even announced Richard Schweiker, a liberal Republican from Pennsylvania, as his proposed running-mate in an attempt to sway enough delegates to win the nomination. When he fell short, Reagan endorsed Ford, but not without getting Ford to drop Nelson Rockefeller, a liberal, from the ticket and replace him with Bob Dole, a pro-life conservative.

After the balloting, President Ford called me down to the platform. Nancy and I went and I asked the delegates to make the vote unanimous for Ford and pledged my support for him. It was an exciting and unforgettable evening.

After Gerald Ford won the nomination in Kansas City, I met with the members of the California delegation and said: "Nancy and I are not going back and sit on our rocking chairs and say, 'That's all for us.'"

Nancy was among those in the room that day with tears in her eyes. She had never tried to influence me, one way of the other, whether I should run for president, but I knew she felt a great sadness for me. She knew how much I hated to lose. In her heart, though, I think Nancy may have felt a sense of relief. Now we could go home and get on with the rest of our lives.

But I think we both knew it wouldn't -- couldn't -- end in Kansas City. After committing ten years of our lives to what we believed in, I just couldn't walk away and say, "I don't care any more."

After the convention, I campaigned in more than twenty states for President Ford....

-- Ronald Reagan, An American Life, p. 202-203

After losing the nomination Reagan had a decision to make, and he concluded that as ineffective as Ford had been, Carter would be worse. Turned out he was right. Helping Ford didn't make Reagan any less principled; like plenty of other politicians he made the best of the situation. Reagan's campaigning wasn't enough to save Ford, although it turned out to be a very close race -- 50-48 in the popular vote, and 297 to 240 in the Electoral College.


W. Author Profile Page said:

You're comparing Medlock to Ronald Reagan?

Mmmmpphhh ... mpph ...


Good one. I thought you were serious for a minute.

Wait ...

B.J. said:

This is a good & thoughtful assessment; however, I am going to stand up for what's right and vote for good rather than the lesser of evils. We have a rare moment in time - Ben Faulk could win this election if Tulsans would faithful instead of fearful....God bless you
p.s. Chris would have a lot more influence on a Faulk term than he would ever have under LaFortune

W. Author Profile Page said:

Reality check: Frosty the Snowman has a better chance of surviving hell than Ben Faulk has in winning the election, B.J.

On a serious note, if Michael Bates is wondering why there's so much bitterness and howling over Chris Medlock endorsing LaFortune, Michael had better look in the mirror.

Why? Because it was Michael who for years helped pump up Medlock like he was some sort of White Knight and denigrated LaFortune and other people in this town as Evil Incarnate. The absolutist, black-and-white view is seldom ever accurate. Medlock certainly has flaws in his good qualities, and LaFortune & Co. certainly possess good points amid their flaws.

So when Michael, Medlock and others spend untold amounts of energy saying that LaFortune is the "worst mayor in 50 years" and other harsh criticisms, some folks might become a tad unhinged when Medlock turns around and endorses his former rival. A propogandist's words have a tendency to boomerang viciously when the situation sours.

So ... is LaFortune truly so bad that it merits a change in leadership? If you think so, you can vote for Taylor or long, longshot Faulk, and you can conclude that Medlock is simply being "a good Republican" instead of looking out for the city's future.

Do you think LaFortune is not as bad as advertised? Then you can vote for him, take your chances, and acknowledge that things aren't nearly as bad as Bates, DelGiorno and others say they are.

Looking over those last few paragraphs, I see why so many people are mad -- at Medlock, and you, Michael. You both now have credibility issues.

Jack said:

Don't you think you are being a bit harsh. I am a Medlock supporter as well. Although I do not live in Tulsa, I do watch what is going on because the leadership in T-Town does effect my job and my life style. Now Mr. Medlock didn't win the primary, if he had this wouldn't be an issue would it. Now he took some time to rest from a gruelling 3 years, assess his situation, just like the rest of have to do, and he had to make a choice based on the situation.

I think it was Rush (The band) said that if you do not make a decision you still have made a choice. Mr. Medlock in assessing his position made a choice, is the situation ideal hell no far from it. But people like Mr. Medlock and Mr. Bates have taken the time to assess the situation and are acting on it. You may or may not agree with it, but you can not fault them for not taking any action at all. They are doing what they think is best for the situation just like every one else should.

Joseph Wallis said:

BJ has a very valid point. If Medlock were truely making his decisions based on principals and change, he would get behind Faulk and usher in real change instead of kowtowing to the GOP. I'm so sick of how relegated people are to the NOn fact that either a republican or a democrat must win. How about the person with the best ideas win?

I'm voting for Faulk, and the rest of you should too. The two "mainstream" candidates are so far out of touch it would be an insult to Tulsa to vote for either of them.

Bob said:

Medlock is a GOP activist, emphasis on GOP. He went as a delegate to the 2004 GOP Convention in NYC, and he is evidently a true-believer in their party platform, every plank, nail and splinter of it.

So, while he leans to the conservative/reformist side of the local party structure, he's just doing a "Party" thing by endorsing the candidate. Not speaking ill of a fellow Republican still remains a guiding tenet of the GOP party philosophy, a tenet left over from their long years in the wilderness as the long-suffering Minority party.

Nonetheless, I still think it is perfectly okay to vote for Mr. Faulk, like I plan to do, for two main reasons.

1) A vote for Faulk is a repudiation of LaFortune, who has been a pitiable failure as a Mayor and as a leader. LaFortune is a RINO who never met a TAX he didn't like. Yet, the guy can't even keep the local public swimming pools open during the summers, or our highways lighted.

2) A vote for Faulk may well elect Kathy Taylor. However, I see her not as a long-term threat to Tulsa, because she merely views the Mayor's position as a stepping stone to the U.S. SINate.

She's lusting for the SINate seat currently held by our increasingly long-in-the-tooth SINator Inhofe, the Father of the Itty-Bitty TEMPORARY Third Penny Sales Tax that is now 26 YEARS OLD, and who not too coincidently still thinks he runs Tulsa. This regressive tax that has picked the pockets of average Tulsans of more than $1 Billion since inception. The local power Oligarch just LOVES sales taxes, but they DESPISE property taxes, owning so much local property as they do.

She lives afterall in the highest priced personal residence in Tulsa, and you just know she hasn't got a clue about the real problems facing Tulsa or average Tulsans.

So, Faulk gets my vote.

Stick a fork in Mayor MisFortune; he's Done.

XonOFF said:

For the record, it was Jim Hewgley who declared Mayor LaFortune "the worst mayor in 50 years", not Medlock or Bates. But they, like me, probably agreed. It was also Jim Hewgley who helped convince LaFortune to run for Mayor in 2001.

The exact quote is this:
"There is no question that during the past 50 years, Bill LaFortune is the worst mayor this city has had."

Roy said:

Miller may have lost the mayor's race not merely herself, but for the republicans.

I appreciate the logic of Medlock's explanation of his endorsing LaFortune. I concur with Mike's
analysis. Medlock has made a legitimate choice. He has not sold out his (and my) position, but has done that which very well may best advance it.

However, I add a "thinking out loud tho my decision is not yet fixed" caveat by way of story.

Recall the story of the frog and the scorpion. At a flood, both a frog and a scorpion face crossing a river. The scorpion pleads with the frog for aid, offering its protection against the frog's enemies while the transit occurs. The frog demurs, replying that the scorpion will kill it. The scorpion observes that means both would die. That persuades the frog to accept the offer. Midstream the scorpion strikes. As the frog sinks beneath the water, it asks "Why?" "Couldn't help it. That's my nature," responds the scorpion.

LaFortune got to be mayor because of name recognition. His public "service" has for me demonstrated his primary goal is not so much Tulsa's future, as padding his own future.

These impressions influence me to conclude that only if LaFortune immediately, post haste, makes at least several of the concessions Mike suggests will I think there is any possibility of him not continuing his past practice.

That, in turn, leads me to consider choosing a candidate whose errors I know rather than one whose subterfuge will surprise.

Furthermore, beyond the next mayoral term, I look at the term after that. Because I think Taylor so wrong, I don't think she would get two terms.

Nathan Phelps said:

I was disappointed when I first heard about this development yesterday. I made it a point to tune into KFAQ this morning to hear Medlock out. Ultimately, Medlock made a tough decision that I think was for the best—personally for him, and for the city. Who wants 4 or 8 years of Taylor? It was a pragmatic decision, and I hope that perhaps this does signal a change in the LaFortune camp—he knows he needs us which is great news.

But what you haven’t mentioned, Michael, is how you fit in on all of this. If I heard it correctly, it sounds like you were in some of those closed door meetings with LaFortune as well. Does this mean we can expect an impending endorsement from you?

Joseph Wallis said:

I'm glad you people keep talking like only two candidates exist. It just makes me all the more angry to channel all my efforts behind a real thrid choice. You all need to get to know Faulk instead of choosing the lesser of two evils. People did that in the 2004 election and look where that got us.

Dan HIcks said:


You seem to be saying that LaFortune is the lesser of two evils. I would remind you that a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil!

Let me tell you why I believe LaFortune is the greater of the evils. I call it the Wilson Doctrine. According to the Wilson Doctrine, a liberal democrat mayor will do less harm because only when the mayor is a democrat will the republican party rise up and stop her.

Susan Savage tried unsuccessfully to pass a 3-5 year 1/2 penny sales tax. Her efforts were defeated twice when the republican party stood up and stopped her. Bill LaFortune tried to impose a billion dollar tax for 13 years and the republican party sat on their hands because he claims to be a republican. The end result was that the "RINO" (Republican In Name Only) actually imposed three times the tax increase that the dreaded liberal democrat could not pass. Bill LaFortune is three times the democrat that Susan Savage was, and because he masquerades as a republican, the tulsa county republican party lets him get away with it.

I think we are much safer defending ourselves against a frontal assault from Mayor Kathy Taylor than four more years constantly pulling knives out of our back with the RINO.

Dan Hicks

Timmy! Author Profile Page said:

I read the most interesting article in The Whirld this morning. I wouldn't be surprised if Medlock has a 90K/year job in the next LaFortune adminstration, and TMAPC has a new member named Michael Bates. I'm picturing Montgomery Burns (identical initials are completely coincidental) twiddling his fingers saying 'Excellent....'

Bob said:

If today's Tulsa World is correct, and Mayor MisFortunate is prepared to nominate a reformer in exchange for Medlock's support, then Tulsa's political venue is finally in a win-win situation.

A nomination of someone of Michael Bates' superb qualifications and balanced temperment to the TMAPC would be a wonderful advance forward for that ossified, developer-dominated governmental body.

Let's hope that's one Mayor MisFortunate promise that is actually kept!

Craig Adams said:

Wonder how much was spent for Medlocks endorsement???

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 24, 2006 12:47 AM.

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