If only we could make such a list.
I’d have a few lists from the legislative session. Best dressed, best debate, who has the best candy in their offices, etc. Those are the inane things that come to mind sometimes after a long day of listening to bills move through the floor.
But, The Oklahoma Observer can use it’s mighty pen to name the ten best and the ten worst House and Senate members of the Legislative session that ended in May.
If you’re unfamiliar, the Observer’s politics are no mystery. The publication tends to be left-leaning. Founding editor Frosty Troy, a fixture in the Capitol press corp, is often touring the country and speaking on the importance of public education and other issues. And in a red state like Oklahoma (at least in the last national election), his stance can be refreshing to loyal readers and fans who subscribe to the publication. And heck, Frosty even has a Facebook page.
Since the Observer requires a subscription, I won’t spoil their whole best and worst list of the session, to get that information you’ll actually have to get your own copy. But some highlights should whet the appetite.
Among the best in the Senate, Observer writers Troy and Editor Arnold Hamilton had this to say: Sen. Richard Lerblance, D-Hartshorne is an “oddity — apparently one of the few senators who reads all the bills on the agenda, then asks meticulous questions.”
The article also praises Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole. Observer writers call Coates “one-of-a-kind, refusing to march in lockstep with the majority of Republicans…” Coates was the lone Republican that opposed the chief information officer bill and refused to change his vote. He also voted with Democrats on other issues throughout the session.
Among the worst in the Senate, The Observer called Senate President Pro Tempore Sen. Glenn Coffee a “bitter partisan,” who “blew it as the first Republican president pro tempore in state history.” Ouch. He did get tort reform legislation passed into law, though.
The Observer also said Sen. John Ford, R-Bartlesville, the author of the worst bill in the session. Ford wrote Senate 834, which sought to deregulate public schools. The Observer said the bill would have “turned every school district into an old plantation.” Observern founding editor, Troy spoke out against this bill at a rally of educators earlier this year.
In the House, Rep. Ryan Kiesel, D-Seminole earned praise from Observer staff who said Kiesel wasn’t afraid to “speak truth to power…he challenged one GOP sacred cow after another.” The publication also lauded Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, calling him an “independent thinker in the all-too-often lockstep world of the House GOP.”
Those drawing criticism in the House included Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, who the Observer says “continues to baffle, astonish and amuse.” The Observer also called Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa “a walking conflict of interest.”