28 August 2002
The morning after
Even in Oklahoma, incumbents don't always get a free ride. State Senator Dave Herbert, first elected in 1986, was tossed out on his ear this time around by political novice Joe Smith, who had the advantage of name recognition everyone knows a Joe Smith, even if it wasn't this Joe Smith and a push from organized labor, which was presumably in the mood to punish Herbert for expediting a referendum on right-to-work. Smith is a Democrat; he will face Republican Cliff Aldridge in November.
Contrary to what some East Coast pundits might have thought, J. C. Watts didn't give up his seat in Congress because he feared being defeated this fall; even after redistricting, Watts wasn't in any danger. His anointed successor, political consultant Tom Cole, easily won the GOP nod for the Fourth District seat, and the top two Democrats will likely destroy each other in the runoff, which would put Cole in the so-far unfamiliar position of being able to hire his own political consultant.
And in the District 1 Commissioner race in Oklahoma County, previously harped on herein, it will be Jim Roth vs. Beverly Hodges in the general election.
The big story, though, is the gubernatorial race. Frank Keating won't be back due to term limits. Former First District Rep. Steve Largent breezed to an easy GOP primary win; the Democrats (again!) have a runoff. Vince Orza, who will likely win this runoff, ran for governor in 1990 when he was a relatively-moderate Republican. Whether he'll do any better as a relatively-conservative Democrat remains to be seen.Posted at 7:25 AM to Soonerland