Oklahoma Election 2010: November 2010 Archives

NewsRealBlog has a piece by David Yerushalmi titled "4 Rebuttals to Critics of Oklahoma's Anti-Sharia Law," a defense of the thinking behind the constitutional amendment adopted by an overwhelming majority of Oklahoma voters on November 2 as State Question 755.

Yerushalmi says that SQ 755 was poorly drafted (and explains why in detail), but the purposes of the amendment are legitimate, and he sets out to rebut four claims by critics: (1) that SQ 755 is a response to an irrational fear of something that poses no realistic threat to Oklahomans; (2) that the amendment was "driven only by a fear-mongering anti-Islamic narrative," a "cottage industry of Islamophobia"; (3) that outlawing sharia endangers other religious courts; (4) that "sharia" has no concrete meaning, making a ban meaningless.

Especially valuable is his explanation of the mechanisms by which sharia can become a real threat to American liberties under existing law:

Specifically, there are at least three ways for sharia to find its way into our courts and legal system in ways which would deprive Oklahomans of their federal and state constitutional liberties: comity, choice of law issues, and choice of forum/venue determinations. We will touch upon each of these in brief.

In dealing with comity, Yerushalmi explains why legislative action against sharia matters:

State courts are asked to recognize and enforce foreign judgments and private arbitral awards all of the time. This procedure for recognizing another juridical body's decision as binding is called granting comity to the foreign judgment. For our purposes, a private arbitral award is like a foreign judgment because it does not arise from a state court action.

Granting comity to a foreign judgment is mostly a matter of state law. And, almost all state and federal courts will grant comity unless the recognition of the foreign judgment would violate some important public policy of the state. This doctrine is called the Void As Against Public Policy Rule and has a long and pedigreed history....

Unfortunately, because state legislatures have not been explicit about what their public policy is relative to sharia, the courts and the parties litigating in those courts are left to their own devices to first know what sharia is, and second, to understand that granting a sharia judgment comity is ipso facto offensive to our way of life and the principles underlying our constitutional republic.

And, indeed empirically, we find published judicial opinions which accept comity for sharia-based foreign judgments and arbitral awards. And these published judicial opinions quite obviously only represent the tip of the iceberg since courts render these kinds of judgments all of the time through unpublished orders rather than published opinions.

While there are also published opinions where the courts have rejected the application for comity precisely on the grounds that sharia is offensive to Due Process and Equal Protection, the courts have ended up all over the map precisely because the state legislatures have not taken the time to carefully articulate their respective public policies on the recognition of sharia-based judgments. That the people of Oklahoma have chosen to do so, even if clumsily, is hardly grounds for criticism.

Yerushalmi has drafted a model uniform act called "American Laws for American Courts" and offers a free CLE course (an online, 40-minute, narrated PowerPoint) on the proposal and the problem it seeks to address.

The draft law appears to address the heart of the matter: We don't want the state's police power used to enforce judgments made under any system of law that does not include all the rights, privileges, and liberties guaranteed under our Federal and state constitutions. While waiting for the federal courts to address SQ 755, our Oklahoma legislators should consider passing the American Laws for American Courts act in some form as a substitute if SQ 755 is overturned or a clarification otherwise.

"Zombie," a blogger known for documenting through photographs the nauseating obscenity of festivals and protests in the Bay Area, is documenting a political and geographical form of obscenity: The gerrymander, the deliberate drawing of district lines for political advantage.

The first of two recent posts -- Gerrymandering 101 -- explains what gerrymandering is, why it's done, and the different types of gerrymanders:

This essay explains in no uncertain terms how manipulating district boundaries can lead to a complete subversion of true representative government....

You may have wondered how America overall tends to prefer conservative policies (pollsters like to say "We're a center/right country") yet we often have a liberal or at least Democratic majority in the Congress. How can this be? Gerrymandering. It's so powerful that it has at times fundamentally altered the political slant of our government.

Zombie includes some simple but effective illustrations, explains how gerrymandering can backfire (as it did in the 2010 election), and notes an additional factor promoting the practice: the racial "packing" mandated by the Federal Voting Rights Act, which has created some of the most bizarre "map monsters," as Zombie calls them.

In part 2, we're given a look at the ten most gerrymandered U. S. House districts, with evocative names like "rabbit on a skateboard" and "water skier checking email on his Blackberry" plus a bonus set of 20 districts that shouldn't even be legal, as they are not contiguous (they use bizarre over-water boundaries to satisfy -- technically -- the contiguity requirement).

Zombie challenges Republicans, with the upper hand in the upcoming decennial redistricting, to do better than the Democrats in drawing compact, reasonable districts. In a representative government, voters choose their representatives. In gerrymander-land, elected officials choose their constituents. True representation begins with fairly drawn districts.

Oklahoma's congressional districts are pretty good by comparison, probably because they were a compromise between a Republican governor and a Democratic legislature. It's tough because the Oklahoma City and Tulsa's metro areas are each too big to fit in a single district, so some of each metro area has to be joined to more rural areas adjacent. The plan also took into consideration the location of Oklahoma's four principal military installations (Fort Sill, Vance, Tinker, and Altus AFBs) -- districts 3 and 4 each cover two of them. While the lines had to be drawn so that the districts had exactly the same population (+/- 1 person), they managed to stick close to county boundaries, which makes the districts simpler to understand.

What are your nominations for the most gerrymandered Oklahoma legislative districts? Leave a comment below.

Jamison Faught, the Muskogee Politico, has painstakingly put together a series of maps illustrating the county-by-county results of the 2010 Oklahoma general election.

The maps are pretty and telling. The darkest red continues to be wheat country, the northwest quadrant of the state, plus Kay and Washington Counties, a traditionally Republican era even when the Democrats dominated state politics. The lightest red (and sometimes blue) area is Little Dixie, roughly south of a line from West Siloam Springs to Wewoka and east of a line from Wewoka to Durant. As you might guess from the nickname, this is the most traditionally Democrat area of Oklahoma. This is Carl Albert and Gene Stipe country.

But the maps highlight one notable exception to the Little Dixie bloc: McCurtain County, in the southeast corner of the state. Anyone know why that is?

McCurtain County elected a Republican for House District 1: Rusty Farley beat incumbent Democrat Dennis Bailey, a rematch of the 2008 election. Bailey was a cooperative extension service agent for over 30 years. Bailey had raised $21,149 by October 18, plus another $2,000 by the "last-minute" disclosure deadline of October 26. Farley had raised $170 by October 18 and didn't file a last-minute report. Jamison Faught points out that only 12% of voters in the district are registered Republican. How in the world did this happen?

Not only did Farley win in McCurtain County, but the county stands out in red contrast to the rest of Little Dixie in many other races. More McCurtain County voters voted straight party Republican than straight party Democrat.

Jamison's State House and State Senate maps show the gains Republicans made this year, term limit opportunities in the House in 2012, and which Senate seats are up for election in 2012.

Several of the statewide maps show some hometown pride. The only four counties won by Jari Askins were near her home base of Duncan. Kenneth Corn, Democrat candidate for Lt. Governor, managed to win his home county of LeFlore and neighboring Haskell County; meanwhile, his Senate seat went Republican. I'm going to guess that AG candidate Jim Priest has some personal connection to Pontotoc County.

For your next task, Jamison: The Oklahoma State Election Board has posted precinct-level election results for the 2010 general election. Have fun with it!

Federal Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, a Clinton appointee to the Western District of Oklahoma and former Democrat legislator from Oklahoma City, blocked the Oklahoma State Election Board from certifying the landslide passage of SQ 755. SQ 755 forbids Oklahoma courts from looking to "the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law." The injunction is in response to a lawsuit filed by Muneer Awad, the state director of CAIR. (Awad doesn't show up as a registered voter in Oklahoma as recently as August of this year.)

Miles-LaGrange's decision makes no sense. Even if there were a constitutional issue with the new amendment, the proper remedy is to enjoin the law's enforcement. Halting certification of the vote would make sense only if there were alleged constitutional violations in the voting process.

Commentary elsewhere:

Gabriel Malor, at Ace of Spades HQ. Malor, an attorney who is originally from Oklahoma, points out that the amendment plainly does not say what the CAIR complaint

Jeff Goldstein writes:

Here's what this ruling means: the people are allowed to play at republican democracy, with their quaint little ballot initiatives. But in the end, we have philosopher kings -- in the person of unelected judges -- who will do the real deciding for us....

Whether you like the law or not; or whether you believe it necessary or not; whether you believe it passes the Lemon test or not; what is at stake here is the court's ability to tell you directly that what you've said and meant is not what you've said and meant -- and that what you've voted to establish into law is potentially unconstitutional on the basis that others who know what you meant can make the text show that it means something other than you designed it to mean.

My first reaction? Yuck.

Governor-elect Mary Fallin today announced the selection of the two co-chairs of her transition team, Devon Executive Chairman and former Oklahoma State Chamber Chairman Larry Nichols and Senator Glenn Coffee.

I was disappointed to see that both are from Oklahoma City, so talented Tulsans and other Oklahomans are likely to be overlooked for Fallin administration positions. More than that, I was disappointed not to see a Tom Coburn-style limited-government conservative as one of Fallin's picks.

Now, both are accomplished men, Coffee as a leader in the Oklahoma State Senate and Nichols in the oil and gas business, but the message I received from these appointments is that the Fallin administration is going to follow the wheeler-dealer Republican path, as I had feared.

Republican officials tend to divide into wheeler-dealers and square-dealers. Square-dealers are in earnest about reducing the size and scope of government, simplifying the tax code, and reducing red tape. What rules there are should be fair to all and equally applied. The market, not the government, should be picking winners and losers.

Wheeler-dealers pay only lip service to the professed Republican values of limited but effective government. For wheeler-dealers, big, complicated government is good, because it can be used to reward political supporters and to punish political adversaries. It's a modern version of the Jacksonian spoils system, but instead of rewarding their voters with government jobs, the victorious team rewards its campaign contributors with tax and regulatory changes to give them an advantage in the marketplace. In theory, the campaign dollars will continue to flow from these favored contributors and from those hoping for such favor, as they come to understand that you must pay to play.

Wheeler-Dealer Road leads to scandal, corruption, and ejection from office. That's the path that congressional Republicans went down in the mid 2000s (Enron, Jack Abramoff), and the path that former Oklahoma Speaker Lance Cargill and his consultant buddies started us down. The result: Congressional Republicans lost their credibility and their majority in 2006, and the free-market ideals that Republicans professed (but didn't practice) were discredited. But Oklahoma Republicans of the square-dealer variety rejected Cargill's leadership, corrected course, and continued to grow their majority, producing last Tuesday's breathtaking result.

Fortunately, the Oklahoma legislature has a number of stalwart square-dealers who will call their colleagues to account. One of them is State Rep. David Dank, who has a must-read op-ed in the Monday, November 8, 2010, Oklahoman. A few key points:

To deliver what we promised, we must take at least five clear actions.

First, our conduct must be above reproach. Oklahoma has experienced too many sordid scandals throughout its history. Voters are right to demand good character from their elected officials, and anyone who violates that trust should be shunned....

Finally, the new Republican super majority must be worthy custodians of the public's money. It's theirs, not ours, and we must be held accountable for how we spend it. Our model should be Oklahoma's outstanding Sen. Tom Coburn, and that should start with a careful examination of tax credits to assure that only those that actually create jobs are enacted or retained.

I was honored to receive a strong vote of support from my constituents in District 85 on Election Day. But I am also old enough to know that today's approval can become tomorrow's rejection for those who fail to keep their promises.

Republicans have a unique opportunity to remake our state -- but only if we honor that public trust we were handed last week.

MORE: Fallin names economic team: Bob Sullivan, David Rainbolt, Gary Sherrer.

I've got some thoughts but am too tired to articulate them in any detail right now, so here are a few bullet points:

There's lots of reasons to rejoice, particularly in Oklahoma. Every statewide office in Oklahoma is in Republican hands, and they're all good hands, to boot.

Given that the GOP already had control of both houses of the Oklahoma legislature and was in no danger of losing either, I hadn't been paying close attention, so I was floored to learn that Republicans had a gain of 8 House and 6 Senate seats. Republicans beat 5 House incumbents and won three open seats, including House 66 (Sand Springs to midtown Tulsa).

In the Senate, Josh Brecheen beat an incumbent Democrat in Little Dixie (!), 57-43, and Kim David won Senate 18 -- a seat that has belonged to the Easley family (fils et mère) for eons. Republicans won 7 of the 10 Senate seats on the ballot. There were 4 unchallenged D seats, but 10 unchallenged R seats, making the total GOP take in this election 17-7.

Partisan breakdown in the upcoming 53rd Oklahoma Legislature: 70 R - 31 D in the House, 32 R - 16 D in the Senate.

Republicans won every contested DA election. Having Republican DAs in rural Oklahoma is a very big deal. That, plus the election of Gary Jones as State Auditor, may mean that shenanigans by county and municipal governments, school boards, and various other boards and authorities will get the scrutiny they deserve. Rex Duncan, former State Rep., is now DA for District 10 (Osage, Pawnee), and Brian Kuester won his second attempt for DA in District 27 (Wagoner, Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah). Alan Gentges, the Democrat nominee for 1st District Congress in 2008, lost his race for DA District 11 (Washington, Nowata) 27%-73%. (Here's a map of the DA districts, which for some reason don't match the judicial districts.)

All the state questions went the way I'd hoped. 744 was deservedly crushed. The NEA blew a lot of money, and we can hope it will deter them from trying anything so foolish in other states.

At the county level, Ken Yazel won re-election as County Assessor (Nancy Bolzle is now officially a perennial candidate), and we kept Wilbert Collins from returning to the County Commission; John Smaligo retained that seat. Republicans need to clean house in 2012.

Nationally, the Republican victory was not as big as I had hoped, but it was still very impressive, with the Dems now below 200 seats in the House. Our Senate success was limited in part because 2004 was a good year for the GOP, so we had fewer opportunities to pick up seats. The distrust earned by the NRSC (endorsing RINOs like Charlie Crist over good conservative candidates like Marco Rubio) left them with fewer dollars to spend on GOTV.

I was in the room Tuesday night, at about 11 pm, when Francisco Canseco gave his victory speech. Returns were slow to come in, the gap was only a few thousand votes, so it took a while before victory was assured. Although I missed being with old friends at watch parties in Tulsa, it was exciting to have had a small part (making phone calls Monday night) in defeating a Democrat and getting Nancy Pelosi fired as speaker and off that Gulfstream jet.

NRO political analyst Jim Geraghty tweeted on Wednesday:

Bizarre feeling this morning. In short, this is the most frustrating overwhelming landslide victory of all time.

Despite all the good news, I felt the same way. More about that in another post.

Corrected: Republicans have 32 seats in the State Senate, not 24 as I first wrote.

Happy Election Day! Polls open across Oklahoma at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Results should start rolling in soon after. The state election board website will update results as they are received from the county election boards. These will lag the results from media sources, as TV and radio stations send runners to precincts to read the results, which are posted on each precinct door shortly after the polls close. To be included in the state election board's numbers, a precinct's results have to be taken to the county election board to be read into the state election computer system.

The Tulsa County Election Board promises to have live Tulsa County election results on the web.

A few resources as you go to vote:

If you run into any difficulty voting or spot any irregularity, contact the your county election board (and get some cell phone video or photos if you can). The phone number for the Tulsa County Election Board is 918-596-5780.

You may see petition circulators for Save Our Tulsa outside polling places. By state law they are not allowed any nearer than 300' -- the length of a football field -- of the ballot box. If you see a circulator within this zone, notify the precinct officials and/or call the election board and the sheriff's office. For more on this issue, read the letter by attorney Greg Bledsoe of Tulsans Defending Democracy.

Posted 2:00 a.m. Tuesday, November 2, 2010. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog through poll closing time.

My picks for the final congressional result:

House 276 R - 179 D (Republican net gain of 98.)

Senate 52 R - 48 D (Republican net gain of 11: Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.)

Remember: You can still help be the wave. In Tulsa, you can be a sign waver or make get-out-the-vote (GOTV) phone calls. Call Jed at 580-239-2988 or Jason at 918-261-4309 to volunteer, or just stop by Tulsa County GOP HQ.

FreedomWorks would like your help making GOTV phone calls in key races across the country.

At the very least, you can personally contact 10 of your friends and encourage them to vote. It makes a difference.

Even though I'm in San Antonio on business for a bit, I still found one more thing to do to help. I went to Frederico Canseco HQ, along with about 50 other volunteers, and dialed almost 200 numbers this evening. It was fun, and it's always interesting (to me, at any rate) to learn about new campaign processes and technologies. Canseco is challenging a two-term Democrat incumbent, Ciro Rodriguez. You may remember the YouTube video of Rodriguez swatting a bunch of papers at a constituent. Canseco is favored to win.

City Council Attorney Drew Rees has had an up-close and personal view of John Eagleton since his election to the Tulsa City Council in 2006. The blatant lie in Linda Morrissey's radio ad -- the claim that Eagleton has no significant legal experience -- has motivated Rees to speak up in support of Eagleton:

I have worked with John Eagleton for over four years. I have observed him in very stressful and contentious times. In every instance, he did not fold under pressure, and did what he believed was right. I have seen John in the courtroom, where he beat some of Tulsa's best attorneys. I have seen him be a solitary vote against a proposal and end up being vindicated in the end. He has been tried by fire and sustained his integrity. He is honest, fair, unbiased, and a very good attorney. Things I look for in a judge.

This is the first time I have openly supported a City Councilor in any campaign. Ms. Morrissey's radio commercial is why. She knowingly lied about John's legal experience, (she said he has "reportedly insignificant legal experience," when she knows he has over 25 years in as a practicing attorney, including his work as an assistant D.A.).

She also ridicules his public service as a City Councilor. I know the pressures of running for office. It is a crucible which reveals who you are and how you will act under stress. If someone cannot maintain their honesty and integrity during a relatively minor judicial race, how quickly their honesty and integrity will fold under pressures from campaign donors, death penalty decisions, or the other intense pressures which every judge must face during their tenure. She has shown she cannot withstand those pressures. John did withstand those pressures and much stronger ones.

Tulsa needs John Eagleton as a judge. He will do what is right, and treat everyone fairly. That is why I am asking you to vote for John Eagleton for judge.

Drew Rees

On Eagleton's website is a long list of community leaders who endorse him, including State Sen. Randy Brogdon, Tim Harris (the sitting District Attorney, in his individual capacity), former DA Chuck Richardson, current City Councilors Jack Henderson, Rick Westcott, Roscoe Turner, and G. T. Bynum, Sally Bell (current GOP chairman), Jerry Buchanan (former GOP chairman), Reuben Gant (Greenwood Chamber of Commerce), and many more.

While I encourage you to vote straight Republican in Oklahoma -- in every race I've looked at, the Republican is the best choice -- there are a few races where I want to underline, bold, and otherwise call attention to my endorsement, because the stakes are so high and the GOP candidate is far and away the best choice. A prime example: Gary Jones for State Auditor and Inspector.

Our previously elected auditor, Jeff McMahan, is now in prison, thanks in large part to Gary Jones's investigation, performed on his own time and on his own dime.

McMahan's appointed successor, Steve Burrage, appears to have ties to the old Stipe-Phipps-McMahan political corruption machine. From Steve Fair's blog entry about the auditor's race:

Shouldn't voters know that Burrage's bank was the one used by former State Senator Gene Stipe and Steve Phipps to funnel taxpayer dollars to their non-existent dog food plant? In the interest of full disclosure, shouldn't the paper tell voters his brother was Stipe's lawyer?

It is curious that Gov. Henry would reach into Antlers, the tiny seat of Pushmataha County in southeast Oklahoma, to pick a new auditor, when it just happened to have been home to the abstract company owned by Steve Phipps and Gene Stipe and the Rural Development Foundation that was central to the scheme. What are the odds?

Even though he's on the state's time and dime, Burrage hasn't been able to complete the Broken Arrow school district audit as scheduled. According to Jones, Burrage hasn't completed a single county audit.

I believe that we have barely scratched the surface of government corruption in Oklahoma. There are so many ways you could hide the scams and ripoffs: transferable tax credits, no-bid single-source contracts, large contracts structured into smaller ones to stay under the threshold requiring competition.

Here's a great way you could enrich yourself, if you were a county commissioner, at the taxpayer's expense: Form an LLC to handle bond management services, but be sure you aren't listed as a registered agent. As a member of the county's industrial authority, you vote to hire that LLC to handle the county's bond business. The LLC charges higher than customary rates for bond management, and you get the profits. Sure, the taxpayer gets less value for his taxes because too much is going to bond-related expenses, but you deserve it.

Now if you're a taxpayer and want to uncover such shenanigans, you need Gary Jones, CPA, as State Auditor. He has the intellectual firepower to look at a financial statement and to know where to start digging. He has the persistence to keep digging in the face of resistance. In fact, he knows that resistance means you've found the right place to dig. Gary Jones has the courage to step on toes when he needs too, even when those toes belong to fellow Republicans.

I trust Gary Jones to find waste, fraud, and abuse, so that taxpayers can keep more of their money and so that the money we send to our state capitol and our county courthouses is used truly to serve the citizens, not to line someone's pockets.

Read more about Gary Jones and his opponent on the Gary Jones for Auditor website. In this article, Gary rebuts Burrage's mudslinging attacks.

The clubby insiders are doing all they can to oust County Assessor Ken Yazel. It might be because he's the only county official who has opposed county tax increases for frivolities. It might be because he insists on assessing fair market value for everyone, even the very wealthy. It might be because he not only professes to support transparency, he lives it, making county property records, which are public records, available in a convenient way to the public.

I got a mailer Thursday from Nancy Bolzle, the unqualified Democrat running against County Assessor Ken Yazel, and I'm planning to hold onto it for a long time. It contains what may be the definitive list of Money Belt RINOs -- the kind of Republicans for whom money and connections mean more than principle. On this list you will find Republicans (in name, at least) who supported Money Belt Democrats like Susan Savage and Kathy Taylor for Mayor. Some of the list's members backed the recall effort against Republican City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. I see several names that were involved in Tulsans for Better Government -- the first group to push for at-large councilors -- and TBG's successor, Save Our Tulsa, Dahlink. These RINOs like non-partisan elections, because the only party that matters to them is the kind that Danna Sue Walker writes about in the society column monopoly daily newspaper. They aren't the kind of Republicans that support limited government. Big government is dandy as long as it's run by themselves, their associates, and those who are beholden to them.

There are lots of homebuilders and developers on the list. It might be because of social connections, or it might be because, if you own a lot of real estate, you'd like to have some control over the person who controls your property tax level.

It's hard to find comps for a house worth, say, $25 million, so -- hypothetically speaking -- if you own such a house, you might want an assessor who will use her discretion to lowball your assessment, in gratitude for all the exciting parties she'll get to attend in your $25 million house. (The taxes for the little people will have to go up to make up the difference, but that's no skin off your nose.) You probably wouldn't want the assessor to be an old Marine major who insists on fair treatment for the great and lowly alike and who could care less about your fancy parties in your fancy house.

There was a robocall Sunday night smearing Yazel, coming from a shadowy organization called "Tulsans for Truth." The message started with "I'm not Sarah Palin but I AM a Republican." I guess we won't find out until after the election who has funded this group. I have my guesses. I won't be surprised to see a list of Vanguard corporate officials and other business partners of Mr. Kathy Taylor -- the same ones that helped Chris Trail beat Bill Martinson. These Money Belt RINOs (and DINOs) don't want smart people like Bill Martinson and Ken Yazel in government, watching how your money gets spent.

I hope you'll vote for Ken Yazel, and you'll call 10 of your friends and tell them to do the same. It's important for taxpayers to have at least one true friend at the county courthouse.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Election 2010 category from November 2010.

Oklahoma Election 2010: October 2010 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Election 2010: January 2011 is the next archive.

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