Election 2008: July 2008 Archives


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Robert N. Going likes what he sees in Oklahoma's junior senator:

I think I have a new hero, a United States Senator who believes in requiring politicians to justify their spending of your tax dollars, who kept his term limit pledge when he went to Congress, who intends to do the same in the Senate, doesn't ask for or get earmarks, is beholden to no one and votes his conscience, Senator Doctor Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

The man has tied the Senate in knots by following their rules. He's put holds on every questionable bill he can get his hands on. See David Keene's background piece in The Hill.

At the time Keene wrote, he fully expected that the good old boys of both parties would squash Coburn like a bug when the "Coburn Omnibus Bill" (designed to logroll enough pet projects to guarantee 60 votes) came to the floor. Lo and behold, the Republicans stuck together and only 52 Senators voted "Aye".

What Going and other limited-government conservatives love about Dr. Tom are the very qualities that frustrate his colleagues:

Tom Coburn's Senate colleagues don't know quite what to make of the doctor from Oklahoma. Many of them find him personally likable, but they can't understand why he seems to want to change the way the exclusive club to which they all belong has been doing business for so long.

And what's worse, they have no way of controlling the man. Coburn (R) left the House in 2000 after three terms there because he had voluntarily term-limited himself, and he says that he'll retire from the Senate after two terms there to go back to practicing medicine in Oklahoma. What that means, of course, is that he won't be around quite long enough to chair an important committee even if the GOP should retake the Senate at some point -- and that, therefore, he doesn't have to watch his manners lest party leaders squelch his ambitions.

Moreover, since he finds earmarks morally objectionable, his colleagues can't control him by cutting off funds for a library or parking garage back home and instead have to either confront his arguments or find a way around him. That was a lot easier in the House because there isn't all that much a lone congressman can do to derail spending programs there, but the Senate actually empowers folks like Coburn, who are willing to forsake the comity of the club and rely on the body's rules to get their way.

We need more people like Coburn in government, people who aren't bound by ambition or fear or social ties from doing what's right. If District 2 voters have the good sense to elect Sally Bell to the County Commission, we'll be closer to that goal here in Tulsa County.

Watch Sen. Coburn's blog to follow his crusade against indefensible federal spending.

MORE: Via Jill Stanek, The Hill reports that the Senate Ethics committee is pressuring Coburn over continuing to deliver babies pro bono. The pretext is that, now that the formerly public Muskogee Regional Medical Center is a private institution, Coburn delivering babies there constitutes an endorsement of that particular hospital.

Coburn spokesman John Hart agreed to discuss the issue only after The Hill contacted his office several times over the past two weeks. He called the Ethics panel's logic "absurd" and its argument "inane."

"Just as parents don't choose him hoping to sway his vote, parents don't choose to receive his services at a particular hospital because Dr. Coburn has somehow endorsed that hospital because he is a senator," Hart said in a statement e-mailed to The Hill. "The committee has shown us zero empirical evidence to back up its flimsy claim.

"Has Sen. Leahy provided an improper endorsement to Warner Brothers for appearing in Batman?" Hart asked. "Will millions of Americans now see Batman not because it features stars like Christian Bale or the late Heath Ledger, but because Patrick Leahy, a distinguished United States senator, has offered his illustrious endorsement to this motion picture?

"If Sen. Coburn can only deliver babies for free at a public hospital, shouldn't Sen. Leahy only be allowed to donate his notable thespian skills to a public entity like PBS?"...

Hart estimates that Coburn has delivered dozens of babies since last receiving an ultimatum from the Ethics panel in 2005. Coburn has received no compensation for his work and paid "tens of thousands of dollars" out of his own pocket for medical malpractice insurance and other costs related to his medical practice, Hart said.

Other physicians in the Senate, such as former Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a heart surgeon, voluntarily gave up their medical practices when they joined the Senate.

Coburn, however, wants to remain a true citizen-legislator and has long argued that the Senate should allow him to keep serving his patients because he plans to return to the practice when he leaves the Senate in 2016, consistent with his pledge to serve only two terms. He would like to keep up his medical skills if he is going to continue being able to earn a living in his chosen profession.

Frist, by contrast, had no plans to return to his practice when he retired from the Senate. ...

"The parents of babies Dr. Coburn delivers don't choose him hoping to sway his vote, and they never have," Hart said. "In the 10 years Dr. Coburn has provided free healthcare to his neighbors while serving in Congress, the Ethics Committee has never pointed to a single conflict of interest. No lobbyist or any individual has ever attempted to infiltrate his medical office under the guise of an invasive medical exam to discuss Senate business."

Coburn's work as an obstetrician was controversial during his House career, but the House allowed him to continue to practice and make enough money to cover his medical bills. When he joined the Senate, the Ethics Committee issued him a letter prohibiting him from practicing medicine.

Hart also made note of the timing of the press's interest in this story. The Ethics Committee sent a memo to Coburn in May, but it has only become public in the past two weeks during the battle over the Tomnibus bill.

Stanek writes, "Were Tom Coburn aborting babies free instead of delivering them free, there would be no investigation; there would be an awards ceremony. This is ridiculous on so many levels, not the least of which is the Democrats' disregard for the poor, unless they control the dole so as to get the credit."

Most elections I'm used to a mixed bag of results -- some encouraging, some discouraging. Once in a great while -- 1980, 1994 come to mind -- everything goes the way I hope.

This comes close to being one of those nights.

82% of Republican voters said yes to Sally Bell and "enough already" to County Commissioner Randi Miller. While I expected a win, my guess was 57%. There's a certain constituency who will vote for the incumbent no matter what. Bell's win is certainly due to disgust with Miller, but the size of the win demonstrates that voters see Bell as a credible prospect for County Commission. That ought to help her raise money and volunteers for the November general election, which will be tough, but it's looking more and more feasible.

We're nearly at 100% of the vote, and it looks like Dana Murphy has won a close Republican primary against State Rep. Rob Johnson for the right to challenge appointed Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, a Democrat. Dana is a wonderful person, she is extremely qualified for this job, and she has the integrity to do the right thing regardless of the pressure from special interests. A cynic would say that combination is political poison, but it's nice to see a good guy finish first for once. Again, it'll be tough to beat an incumbent, but Murphy is more qualified than Roth for the job (she worked for the OCC for five years, he's been there less than one), and she has been in three statewide elections. Roth has never run statewide.

In District 35, we're headed for a runoff, as expected, between Cason Carter and Gary Stanislawski. There's only a 268 vote gap between the two -- Carter 44%, Stanislawski 40%. It's likely that Jeff Applekamp and Janet Sullivan took more support from Stanislawski than from Carter -- Applekamp comes from the southern end of the district, and Sullivan, like Stanislawski, attends Victory Christian Center.

No surprises in the Republican primaries for U. S. Senate and the First Congressional District: Jim Inhofe and John Sullivan prevailed easily over perennial candidates.

I was surprised that the anointed Democratic challengers to Inhofe and Sullivan won by relatively slim margins over very underfunded opponents. Georgianna Oliver beat Mark Manley by only 55% to 45%, and Democratic turnout in the 1st District was half of the Republican turnout, which reveals a lack of enthusiasm for the recently relocated Mrs. Oliver. State Sen. Andrew Rice managed less than 60% against a perennial candidate.

I was pleased, but not at all surprised, to see Dan Newberry win his Senate District 37 primary by such a large margin. He's been walking the district for a year or more. He's got a good headstart on reclaiming the district for the Republican Party.

John Trebilcock won over his primary challenger by a two-to-one margin. I'm told the over-the-top attacks by his opponent turned off a lot of voters.

Elsewhere in Oklahoma, the Chambers of Commerce and the old Cargill machine attempted to defeat State Reps. Randy Terrill and Mike Reynolds. Terrill won renomination with 75% of the vote. Reynolds's race was closer -- 55-45. Disgraced former Speaker Lance Cargill was a consultant to his opponent's campaign.

In Oklahoma County, District 2 County Commissioner Brent Rinehart got a bigger percentage of the vote than Randi Miller -- all of 21%, and that in the face of financial scandal and national notoriety for his amateurish cartoon campaign piece. But he still lost big, and Brian Maughan came close to winning outright with 47% of the vote. Maughan will face J. D. Johnston in a runoff. I know Brian through state Republican Party events, and I'm happy to see him well on his way to a seat on the County Commission.

My take on the two Northside Democratic House primaries: All of the candidates are pretty far to my left on state issues, none of them are pro-life, and none of them will have a Republican opponent in the fall, so in a sense, it doesn't matter who wins. But Christie Breedlove, running in HD 72, has been a tireless worker for Roscoe Turner, one of the good guys on the City Council, and we're often on the same side of local issues, so I'm happy to see her move forward to a runoff.

I was also happy to see Jabar Shumate prevail in a tough primary against Kevin Matthews in HD 73. Nothing against Matthews, but I appreciated Shumate and Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre taking the political risk to support the New Hope Scholarship program, which would have given partial tax credits for donations to scholarship funds to pay for at-risk students to attend private schools. It was a modest school choice bill, but one opposed by a core Democrat constituency -- the teacher's union and other elements of the education establishment -- so Shumate and Eason-McIntyre deserve praise for putting their constituents' best interests above political expedience.

It's just really nice to know that I don't have to take down any yard signs tomorrow, because all my candidates made it to the next round.


I thought I heard a big flushing sound yesterday.

Irritated Tulsan has a career possibility for the soon to be former commissioner.

740 KRMG's Joe Kelley has video of the real reason Randi lost in a landslide.

Michelle is OK with low voter turnout, and she has some advice for John Trebilcock's opponent:

John Newhouse found out tonight that you should run on something besides a mistake your opponent made over a year ago, and has asked forgiveness for. Trebilcock won with about 65%.

This post will remain at the top of the blog until the polls close.

I'll have five choices on my ballot in the 2008 Oklahoma primary election; here's how I plan to mark it:

U. S. Senator: Sen. Jim Inhofe
U. S. Representative, District 1: Rep. John Sullivan
Corporation Commissioner, Short Term: Dana Murphy
State Senator, District 35: Gary Stanislawski
Tulsa County Commissioner, District 2: Sally Bell

If you're a Republican in Senate District 37, I encourage you to vote for Dan Newberry, a solid conservative and a hard-working campaigner. I think he has the best shot at recapturing the seat for the GOP in November.

If I lived in House District 98, I'd be voting for John Trebilcock. John has hit a few bumps in the road, but he's been a solid legislator, and I appreciate his courage in standing up to the Cargill machine at the Capitol.

Here are some links that may be helpful as you go to vote:

Oklahoma State Election Board website
Complete list of candidates for state and federal office
Unofficial election results

Oklahoma Ethics Commission
OEC public disclosure system
Federal Election Commission campaign finance reports and data

Tulsa County Election Board website
Complete list of Tulsa County candidates
Precinct locator
Sample ballots by party and precinct

League of Women Voters Tulsa 2008 election information and voters' guide
Oklahomans for Life candidate survey

MORE: Irritated Tulsan has a motivational poster for voters in County Commission District 2. (Also, he reports that Yaw Eno has been cut down in its prime.)

Gary Stanislawski is not at all bothered that his principal rival in the SD 35 Senate race received a certain endorsement:


The Whirled editorial board endorsed former City Councilor Cason Carter.

Stanislawski, a financial planner and Jenks school board member, has been endorsed by incumbent Sen. Jim Williamson, who is leaving the legislature because of term limits, and by the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly. Stanislawski is an ORU alumnus, an active member and sometime Sunday School teacher and officer at Victory Christian Church, and served 8 years in the US Air Force.

Here's what I had to say about Mr. Carter about a year ago, right after the vote on buying One Technology Center as a new City Hall:

Taylor's over-the-top speech should have been greeted with howls of derision. Some councilor should have told her, "Madame Mayor, come back to talk to us when you can do so without insulting our intelligence."

Taylor claimed that the consolidation of city government offices at OTC would be the "key that will unlock the revitalization of downtown."

Four years ago, we were told that the new downtown sports arena was going to be the key to revitalizing downtown. Before that, we were told that the key was the Inner Dispersal Loop, the Williams Center, the Civic Center, putting the pedestrian mall in, and taking the pedestrian mall out.

It's as if we have a junk drawer full of house keys, skeleton keys, car keys, diary keys, piano keys, and plastic baby toy keys, and our civic leaders are trying them at random until they find one that works.

Taylor also told the Council that the OTC purchase would accomplish "transformation for our souls." I kid you not -- she really said that. Maybe it's because OTC looks like a crystal. Or perhaps Taylor has been reading The Secret.

Our current City Hall is ugly, and moving to OTC would give a boost to the Blue Dome District, but the deal isn't all that. Only the very gullible would buy the fake-it-'til-you-make-it hucksterism in Taylor's claim that going into debt to buy OTC would "change the trajectory" of our city.

And speaking of Cason Carter, he too professed faith in the transformational power of One Technology Center. I'm not sure whether he said that because he truly believes it or because he was trying to please Mayor Mommy by echoing her words.

Carter plans to run for State Senate District 35 next year, but anyone who spouts such nonsense doesn't have any business handling taxpayer dollars at City Hall, much less the bigger bucks at the State Capitol.

Cason is intelligent, a likable guy, and conservative on social issues. Many people I respect are supporting him. But he played it safe during his two years on the Council, taking care never to offend people who might be able to finance his next step up the political ladder. If someone isn't willing to take political risks and offend powerful special interests at City Hall, it's hard to believe he'll suddenly develop that level of courage at a higher level of government.

DISCLOSURE: Early in the campaign, having already decided by process of elimination that I would not be supporting Mr. Carter or Mr. Applekamp, I did some paid computer work for the Stanislawski campaign. This blog entry is at my own initiative, prompted only by a mention of the flyer on Chris Medlock's show. (Medlock was endorsed by the Whirled in his first State House run in 1994, which he lost to Fred Perry, another conservative who was proud not to be endorsed by the Whirled.)

MORE: This endorsement won't help Cason in Brookside:

"As a private developer looking to invest in Tulsa, Cason Carter was extremely helpful. He put me in contact with neighborhood leaders and was able to help facilitate a project that will be a great benefit for Tulsa."

John Gilbert
Senior Vice President Bomasada Group, Inc.

This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is mainly devoted to an endorsement of Edmond attorney/geologist Dana Murphy for the two-year term on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Murphy is running against State Rep. Rob Johnson in the Republican primary, and the primary winner will face Jim Roth, who was appointed by Gov. Brad Henry to fill the vacancy left by Denise Bode's resignation.

Dana Murphy (danamurphy.com) served for five years as an administrative law judge for the OCC, presiding over more than 5,000 cases, weighing evidence and testimony and making judgments, and acting as a gatekeeper over the issues that would be decided by the three commissioners. If elected, Murphy would have no need for on-the-job training.

In addition to her time at the OCC, Murphy has worked as a petroleum geologist and an oil and gas attorney. She did her undergraduate work in geology at OSU then went on to get a law degree at Oklahoma City University....

I first got to know Dana Murphy during the 2002 campaign. Impressed by her credentials, I was glad to have the chance to serve in a very minor role on her team. I became even more impressed by her character, as I saw how graciously she dealt with slimy attack ads and a slim runoff defeat.

I'm proud to call Dana a friend, and in the intervening years, I've come to have an even greater appreciation for her character....

It's just under two weeks until the state primary election, and a number of organizations are out to help you make up your mind by asking candidates for their positions on key issues.

Oklahomans for Life has responses from state and federal candidates to a 12-question survey dealing with the issues of abortion and euthanasia, and in ways that are likely to come before Congress and the State Legislature.

It's disappointing that so few Democratic candidates bothered to respond to Oklahomans for Life. The usual excuse is that the survey responses will be used against them by Republican opponents, but that doesn't explain why Democrats don't respond even when no Republicans are running -- e.g. House Districts 72 and 73.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Election 2008 category from July 2008.

Election 2008: June 2008 is the previous archive.

Election 2008: August 2008 is the next archive.

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