For the life of me, I can't understand why anyone would want my advice when going to the polls, but as a blogger of long standing, I am expected to offer that advice whether you want it or not. I've already dealt with the flood of state questions short version: No on 744, No on 754, Yes on the rest so it's time to tackle the candidates themselves.
Some people are surprised to hear, given my somewhat-right-of-center views, that I have been a registered Democrat for thirty-eight years. Remember, though, that for most of that period I lived in Oklahoma, where Democrats are generally, as the Firesign Theatre might say, Not Insane; a professional parasite like, say, Sheila Jackson-Lee would have trouble getting elected dogcatcher in Oklahoma, if we had elections for dogcatcher, which we don't. That said, I recognize that on the national level, the Democratic Party has basically been overrun by gypsies, tramps and thieves. (On second thought, forget part of that: actual gypsies have at least some sense of honor.) So while I'm not about to support any Democrats headed for Washington after voting for Barack Obama in the '08 primary, damage control is high on my to-do list it's not so cut and dried toward the bottom of the ballot.
I am not inordinately fond of Dr. No, but Tom Coburn is a mostly-genuine budget hawk, something we need more of with the deficit climbing every nanosecond, and besides, he'll be gone after 2016. (He said he'd quit the House after three terms, which he did; once he showed up in the Senate, he vowed to stay only two terms.) Besides, you hardly ever hear him complaining about lesbians anymore. And back in ought-four, Democrat Brad Carson, running for this very seat, scowled during a TV debate: "We've sent people to Washington who did nothing for Oklahoma. But we've never sent anyone to Washington, D.C., who makes doing nothing for us their platform." Doing for us having been demonstrated to being the equivalent of doing to us, this comes as a high recommendation indeed.
US House District 5:
I seldom if ever vote for the incumbent in this race, and inasmuch as I can't vote for the incumbent in this race she's turned her attention elsewhere the next priority is to keep it out of the hands of my fellow Democrats until they clean up their act. Which more or less leaves me with James Lankford, the Republican, though I'm leaning more towards independent Clark Duffe, who's running as an independent because the Libertarians can't get on the ballot in this state. Duffe's a heavy Tenth Amendment guy, and putting the "States" back in "United States" is long overdue.
This is, we are told, an "historic" election, since a woman will be elected governor. Apart from this trivial consideration, there really isn't a lot to differentiate the two candidates: Mary Fallin isn't quite as conservative as she'd like you to think, and Jari Askins isn't quite as liberal as Mary Fallin would like you to think. (Remember: Oklahoma Democrats are Not Insane.) Fallin, in fact, is an ex-Democrat, although she never ran for office as a Democrat. I've never been bowled over by Jari Askins, though she has one factor working for her: with the GOP ascendant in Oklahoma, having a Democratic governor is practically an invitation to gridlock, and I've been a big fan of gridlock for many years. And unlike Fallin, she's never been accused of having fooled around with a member of her security team while serving as lieutenant governor, though the Fallin affair story turned out to be dubious at best. Fallin's positions are a little closer to my own, so she gets the nod, but I will not be disappointed if Askins pulls out the win.
State Senate District 40:
This is Republican Cliff Branan's domain, and he's not leaving it: Democrat Liz Donnelly withdrew from the race this past summer, though her name is still on sample ballots. (I am told that Donnelly will not be on the official ballot form.) District 40 is pretty centrist, and Branan isn't all that far to the right, so this seems to work.
State House District 87:
Like the Senate district it overlaps in spots, House District 87 is somewhere in the political center, which makes life easier for politicians who go along to get along. Then again, Republican incumbent Jason Nelson did pull off one Good Thing in his first term: "Lindsey's Law," a name I of course hate. Here's what Nelson's bill is about:
The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program is established to provide a scholarship to a private school of choice for students with disabilities for whom an individualized education program (IEP) in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been developed. Scholarships shall be awarded beginning with the 2010-2011 school year.
Miss Henry is the daughter of outgoing Governor Brad Henry; she died of a genetically-transmitted neuromuscular disease at the age of seven months. The Guv apparently had nothing to do with putting her name on this bill. You might think there was nothing particularly controversial about this measure. But several Tulsa-area schools, thinking "OMG vouchers!" or something like that, decided they would not allow their precious
meal tickets students out of their sight and refused to allow them, even if accepted by a participating school, to transfer out.
Nelson also has a warped sense of humor: not pleased with the wording of a measure to require assisted living centers to have backup power generators, he added a gratuitous amendment to delay implementation of the bill to the year 3010. I haven't decided yet whether this is a drawback or not. Democratic opponent Dana Orwig, making her third try for this seat, is presumably horrified by the very idea. Still, I supported Orwig twice before, and I'm doing it again, partly to help the cause of gridlock, and partly because she doesn't see service in the House as a stepping-stone to something else. There's a lot to be said for lack of ambition.
I actually like both of these guys, but I'm going with Republican Scott Pruitt over Democrat Jim Priest, if only because Pruitt has promised to make a stink over Obamacare and other examples of egregious Federal malfeasance by opening up an Office of Federalism. The Oklahoman, while endorsing Pruitt, took exception to this; I think it's one of his stronger points myself.
I wish Scott Meacham, the Democratic incumbent, had decided to stay on; he did a heck of a good job after taking over for Robert Butkin. But he didn't, so we're left with Ken Miller, Representative from House District 81, and Stephen Covert, a CPA making his first bid for office. Meacham allegedly encouraged Miller to run for the post, which if nothing else helps to blur the party lines, since Miller is a Republican. A group of self-described Tea Partiers considers Miller a RINO, but in the Treasurer's slot, which isn't particularly partisan, I don't have a problem with that. Miller wins this one handily.
Auditor and Inspector:
Worst call I made in 2006, I think, was endorsing Jeff McMahan for this slot; McMahan earned eight years in Club Fed for being on the receiving end of a bribe. His opponent then was Gary Jones, later head of the state GOP, and Jones is trying again this time around. He's certainly better than McMahan, but Steve Burrage, appointed by Governor Henry to finish McMahan's term, has run a pretty tight ship, and I'd like to see him continue to do so.
Commissioner of Labor:
You'd think this position was far enough under the radar that minor transgressions would go unnoticed. You would be wrong. And I figure, two ghastly lapses in one term are more than enough. So out with Lloyd Fields, and in with Mark Costello, who at the very least seems buttoned-down far enough to avoid being an embarrassment.
Superintendent of Public Education:
Following Sandy Garrett, who was first installed as Superintendent during the French and Indian War, is a tough act. Susan Paddack, a state Senator from Ada (District 13), is facing Janet Barresi. Both have good credentials. Paddack was a teacher for many years. Barresi, however, actually ran a school: Independence Charter Middle School in Oklahoma City. And Barresi has, I think, one other advantage: she spurns State Question 744 and its dubious promises of free-flowing education cash.
Commissioner of Insurance:
Two of the good guys here: Kim Holland, the Democratic incumbent, and John Doak, challenging for the GOP. Both impressed me greatly, but I'm opting to stay with Holland, who had a mess to clean up after the indictment of her predecessor Carroll Fisher, and who by all accounts did it very well.
Commissioner, Oklahoma County District 1:
Democrat Willa Johnson, who came to this job after serving Ward 7 on City Council for 14 years, has done a decent job, given the limitations of county government; I can see no reason to turn her out in favor of the GOP's Sam Crosby.
Whew. Am I glad we don't have to do this every year.
25 October 2010