Quick picks

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I had great plans of producing a post every evening this week, each one highlighting a different race in detail. But the rest of life intruded on those plans, so now I am hurriedly composing a short post, so that tomorrow at church, when friends ask me, "Who should I vote for?" I can point them to the website.

It will come as no surprise that, as an elected official in the Tulsa County Republican Party, I am urging you to vote for Republicans in every race. While I am not equally enthusiastic about all Republican candidates, nevertheless, I think there are good reasons in each race to pick the Republican.

As a supplement to this entry, read my debate with former Tulsa County Democratic Chairman Elaine Dodd in this week's UTW, in which we talk about some statewide and legislative races.

Governor: Ernest Istook. Brad Henry has led Oklahoma in the wrong direction. Instead of helping to provide a solid foundation of laws on which businesses can build, he has made gambling the centerpiece of his plan, creating problems that will plague the state for generations. While he has not stood in the way of the Republicans' most popular initiatives, he isn't providing positive leadership for the reforms Oklahoma needs most. Ernest Istook, for all his flaws, understands what Oklahoma needs to do to become a more congenial place to start and grow businesses and create jobs. And Ernest Istook is in line with Oklahoma's views on social issues. When you consider the questionable decisions made by state courts elsewhere, it matters who is appointing state judges.

Treasurer: Howard Barnett. I don't like how Barnett treated Dan Keating in the primary. I don't like Barnett's support for at-large councilors here in Tulsa. But I do believe that Barnett would be honest and intelligent in managing the state's funds, and all the reasons to get rid of Brad Henry apply doubly to Scott Meacham, the brains behind Brad Henry's gaming-centered economic plan. Meacham was appointed by Henry to fill Robert Butkin's unexpired term when Butkin left to head the TU law school.

Lt. Governor: Todd Hiett. It's essential, in what may be a closely divided State Senate, to have a Republican as Lt. Governor who can cast the tie-breaking vote. If Henry is reelected, we need a conservative Republican as Lt. Governor to act as a foil and to get in position for a run for governor in four years. As speaker, Todd Hiett did a fine job overseeing the transition of the State House to Republican control and had some significant legislative accomplishments.

Corporation Commissioner: Bob Anthony. See my earlier, lengthy entry about Bob Anthony. Now more than ever, we need him representing our interests as utility ratepayers.

Attorney General: James Dunn. I'm still amazed that the incumbent, Drew Edmondson, joined in an amicus curiae brief opposing the Boy Scouts exercise of their 1st Amendment right of freedom of association. I'm even more amazed that Edmondson hasn't paid a political price for putting the state's name and resources behind this suit that would have forced the Scouts to hire homosexual scoutmasters. More recently, Edmondson initiated an amicus and sought the support of other Attorneys General in support of Judith Miller, the reporter who went to jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury. Edmondson seems to think the Oklahoma AG's office is his personal law firm, at his disposal to get involved in any national interest that strikes his fancy. On the other hand, he wouldn't defend Haskell County, which sought to keep the Ten Commandments on the courthouse lawn. There's reason to believe he wouldn't defend the state's own laws, passed by our elected representatives, should they come under constitutional scrutiny. Last year Capital Research Center, a national non-profit watchdog group, called Edmondson an aggressive activist. That report, a PDF file, goes into detail about Edmondson's career as AG, including his participation in the tobacco lawsuit that brought home the bacon for his lawyer pals:

The tobacco settlement for Oklahoma alone generated $250 million in private attorneys’ fees. Edmondson hired two out-of-state firms (that got $150 million), which then selected four Oklahoma firms from a list he gave them (they split the other $100 million). Earlier Edmondson had gotten Oklahoma law changed to permit him to file lawsuits independently of the request of a state agency.

One of those favored firms is Tulsa's Riggs, Abney, Neal, Turpen, Orbison & Lewis, which was paid $30 million. Lawyers at the firm contributed heavily to Edmondson's reelection campaign.

James Dunn is an experienced attorney who will stick with the constitutional responsibilities of the Attorney General's office. Dunn will defend our laws, will defend Oklahoma land owners against eminent domain abuse, and will act in accordance with our state's values when asked to weigh in on Federal court cases.

I should also say that, having met and observed Dunn and his family, they seem much more normal and well-adjusted than a typical political family. I sometimes get the impression that a candidate spouse is smiling through her pain, miserable, but putting on a good show. I don't get that vibe from Regina Dunn.

Auditor and Inspector: Gary Jones. Here you have an honest, credentialed challenger (Jones) who refuses to take campaign money from people connected with companies regulated by the State Auditor facing an incumbent (McMahan) who doesn't have the necessary education to be an auditor, much less run the State Auditor's office, is connected with all sorts of questionable characters in southeast Oklahoma, and has filled his campaign coffers with money from the firms he regulates. McMahan even fired the head of his Tulsa office, despite commending her on her work, because she didn't campaign for him in the 2002 election. (There's audio of that conversation, and I've heard it.)

McMahan has had performance problems as well. For his eight years in office, McMahan's predecessor, Clifton Scott, issued audited end-of-year financial statements by December 31, six months after the end of the previous fiscal year, in accordance with generally accepted accounting practices. Under McMahan, those same audited statements haven't been completed until February 20, May 20, and February 24 of the following year.

Jones is a CPA, served honorably as a Comanche County Commissioner, winning bipartisan praise.

Labor Commissioner: Brenda Reneau. The labor unions are still mad that they don't own this office like they used to, and they're trying again with Lloyd Fields to get it back. Reneau's focus has been on helping workers and businesses cooperate to make the workplace safer. Her "Safety Pays" program helps businesses identify and correct hazardous work conditions before they get hit with Federal sanctions, resulting in fewer injuries for workers and lower workers' compensation insurance premiums for businesses. The program won an award this year from the U. S. Department of Labor as the best of its kind in the nation.

Insurance Commissioner: Bill Case. Case is a longtime veteran of the insurance industry and a term-limited legislator from Oklahoma City. While I'm not crazy about him, his opponent is Kim Holland, who was appointed to fill the term of the disgraced incumbent, Carroll Fisher. Holland also worked in the insurance industry, but her most important qualification seems to be that she is close with Oklahoma Secretary of State Susan Savage. Holland's husband is Jim East, who was on Savage's staff when Savage was mayor. While Case has a college degree, Holland does not.

Holland has the distinction of being the first mayoral appointee to be rejected by the City Council. Savage had reappointed her as a member of the EMSA board. I was in the audience that night, and I remember her defiant and ungracious response to the Council's decision.

In the State Legislative races, I can't emphasize how important it is for Republicans to gain control of the State Senate and retain control of the State House. Control of one house made possible a tax cut, a doubling of road funding without raising taxes, and landmark pro-life legislation. With GOP control of both houses, the State Senate will no longer be the place that good bills go to die.

I'd like to single out several Republican legislators who are in contested races and are worthy of your support: Mark Liotta in HD 77, John Trebilcock in HD 98, Sue Tibbs in HD 23, Randy Brogdon in SD 34. I personally know and respect all of these people. They have demonstrated themselves to be honest and courageous. They understand the temptations faced by the Republican caucus now that it is in the majority, and they have been working to keep the party true to its principles and promises.

Jesse Guardiola, running against an incumbent in HD 78, is cut from the same good cloth. He would be a vast improvement over the incumbent, Jeannie McDaniel, whom Oklahomans for Life called the biggest disappointment in the legislature for her consistent voting against pro-life legislation.

Three more races: One federal, two county.

US Congress: John Sullivan. Sullivan has been a consistent conservative, even when that puts him at odds with House leadership and the White House. He was one of about 60 congressmen to vote in support of amendments to pull specific pork-barrel items out of appropriations bills. On illegal immigration, he's pushed for a tougher response to the problem. Because the GOP House majority is so slim, a vote for either of his opponents is a vote to put liberals from the coasts in charge of the House and all of its committees. We need the Republicans to keep control, and we need real conservatives like Sullivan there to move the Republican caucus back on track.

County Commission: John Smaligo. While I wish he would come right out and say that he thinks asking taxpayers to fork over $600 million to build islands in the river is ridiculous, he has said in the past that county government needs to use its funds for needs, like roads, bridges, and flood control, not frills. He's bound to be better than Wilbert Collins, who has simply gone along with everything Bob Dick wanted him to do.

County Assessor: Ken Yazel. I like and respect former assessor Jack Gordon -- I especially appreciated the way he went after out-of-state non-profits who were violating the terms of the property tax exemption on the Tulsa apartment complexes they owned, and I appreciated his willingness to oppose Vision 2025 publicly. But overall, I think Ken Yazel has done even more for fiscal responsibility in county government by reducing his own department's budget and, as budget board head, finding ways to cut costs and improve accountability. I also appreciate Yazel's willingness to assess all homes at their fair, full value, even the sort of enormous homes are owned by powerful folks like the Lortons and Mayor Kathy Taylor. While I wish there were a place for both men in county government, I have to choose, and I think Yazel is the better choice.

For my comments on state questions and judicial races, click those links for previous entries.

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» My election day cheat sheet from BatesLine

For my own reference (and yours as well, if you like), a little cheat sheet to help me keep all the races straight. The front side of the ballot varies from precinct to precinct. If you live in Tulsa County, this page has links to an image of each prec... Read More


W. Author Profile Page said:

Translation to Ernest Istook endorsement: Brad Henry's done a good job, but we THINK Istook can do better.

And don't forget: Istook wanted your tax returns to be examined by the Appropriations Committee. This permanently put him on my crap list.

Paul Tay said:

Guess who I placed 50 clams bets on? Who's endorse did I check first? Yep! Ya got it.

Pa said:

I took the liberty of cutting and pasting Michael's recommendations into a nifty "cheat sheet" to carry into the polling booth:

Governor: Ernest Istook.
Treasurer: Howard Barnett.
Lt. Governor: Todd Hiett.
Corporation Commissioner: Bob Anthony.
Attorney General: James Dunn.
Auditor and Inspector: Gary Jones.
Labor Commissioner: Brenda Reneau.
Insurance Commissioner: Bill Case.
US Congress: John Sullivan.
County Commission: John Smaligo.
County Assessor: Ken Yazel.
SQ 724: FOR
SQ 725: AGAINST SQ725.
SQ 733: FOR SQ 733.
SQ 734: FOR.
Office 1: Cliff Smith
Office 4: Jim Caputo
Office 8: Tom Thornbrugh
Office 10: Deirdre Dexter
Office 13: Jonathan Sutton
Tulsa County Associate District Judge: Dana Kuehn

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 5, 2006 12:31 AM.

Judging the judge's judger was the previous entry in this blog.

Hazardous waste? Edmondson's lawsuit is the next entry in this blog.

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