Heading into the 2014 elections, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is the second-best positioned governor facing re-election in the nation, according to the FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times.
Based on the three most recent polls, the blog places Fallin’s job approval rating at 65 percent and disapproval at only 23 percent. Only one governor potentially running for re-election has a better net job approval.
That may surprise some Democrats who hoped Fallin’s rejection of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion would provide them leverage with voters. If anything, that decision may have helped Fallin.
Even if her numbers dip, it may not mean much given Oklahoma’s Republican leanings. Proof of that conclusion can be seen in Illinois, where Gov. Pat Quinn is the second-most unpopular governor up for re-election in 2014, yet FiveThirtyEight notes he “is still considered a favorite to win re-election” because of that state’s heavy Democratic tilt.
In January, state Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, publicly invited gun-maker Remington to relocate from New York to Oklahoma following New York’s passage of a ban on so-called assault rifles.
Kirby suggested the company could receive Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act incentives and a five-year property tax exemption for manufacturers, and noted recent lawsuit reforms and potential workers’ compensation reforms could make Oklahoma an ideal place for the business.
Many dismissed the invite as a stunt, but maybe Kirby was on to something.
A manufacturer of Colt rifles is now moving to Breckenridge, Texas. The CEO of Colt Manufacturing in Connecticut has suggested the company may relocate after passage of extremely restrictive gun laws. And Texas Gov. Rick Perry has reportedly sent letters to several gun companies, encouraging relocation to Texas.
If that approach is succeeding in Texas, local officials may soon ask, “Why not in Oklahoma?”
Come Tuesday, the Oklahoma City Council will have two new faces around the horseshoe. We welcome John A. Pettis Jr. and James Greiner to what is a usually harmonious but occasionally cacophonous process of governing a growing, increasingly diversified city.
Pettis and Greiner ousted incumbents to claim seats for Ward 7 and Ward 1. Gone are veteran councilmen Skip Kelly and Gary Marrs. Kelly’s personal problems no doubt played a role in his defeat. Allegations of driving under the influence have dogged him; even had he won, Kelly might have had to leave office if a pending court ruling goes against him.
In Ward 1, the situation was different. Marrs is an outstanding councilman but was outworked by Greiner. At 32, the challenger has boundless enthusiasm for retail politics — knocking on doors, connecting with voters, projecting a positive attitude. This boundless enthusiasm will serve him well on the council and in representing the sprawling northwest Oklahoma City ward for the princely sum of $12,000 a year.
Overall it wasn’t a bad day for incumbents here and in other parts of the state. Two Oklahoma City Council incumbents didn’t draw opponents and automatically got another four-year term. Tuesday’s results set the stage for an interesting mayoral race next year if incumbent Mick Cornett seeks another term and faces council maverick Ed Shadid, who appears set to make a run.
Tuesday’s results are no indicator for what could happen in 2014. Shadid’s appeal in Ward 2 is unlikely to translate to a citywide mandate. Then again, anyone who counted out Pettis and Greiner because they faced “popular” incumbents now knows that holding an office isn’t a ticket to keeping it.
After years of debating the idea, Oklahoma lawmakers are giving another go to legislation that would target those driving without insurance.
Senate Bill 691 would prevent uninsured drivers from receiving any monetary damages after auto accidents. The bill passed the Senate 31-9 and just passed a House committee on a 10-6 vote.
State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, said the idea behind the bill is simple: “If you’re not participating in the system that you’re required to by law, then you shouldn’t benefit from it.”
A 2011 report from the Insurance Research Council says about 24 percent of Oklahoma’s drivers were uninsured in 2009, the latest year of data. Yet those drivers can file claims on others’ insurance, even as their own actions drive up the cost of others’ insurance.
That’s why we suspect most Oklahomans will like this bill. Maybe this will be the year it finally becomes law.
Voters in northwest Oklahoma City’s Ward 1 have the chance to send an excellent public servant back to the city council by re-electing Gary Marrs on Tuesday. Marrs, 66, is in a runoff with James Greiner, 31. Those two emerged from a three-person race in the March 5 primary.
Marrs has given a lot to the community during his nine years on the council, and before that during his 30-year career with the Oklahoma City Fire Department, which included a stint as chief. Greiner is a fine, energetic young man whose willingness to serve in a time-consuming, low-paying job speaks well of his character.
Like the best members of the council, Marrs works not only for his ward but for the whole city. He’s mindful of infrastructure challenges in his sprawling ward but is eager to help MAPS 3 blossom and for the city to continue economic development efforts that help it grow. He’s earned another term.
Ward 7 incumbent Skip Kelly, 63, also faces a runoff. His opponent is John A. Pettis Jr., 30, in the northeast-side ward.
Turnout for the primary was extremely light. Council members are critical in deciding the city’s course. These seats are important. Voters in Ward 1 and Ward 7 should treat them as such on Tuesday by going to the polls.
U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, has gone from being an unknown candidate in a crowded primary a few years ago to a national figure.
Evidence of his growing influence can be seen in a recent profile published in Roll Call, a newspaper dedicated to congressional coverage. The article notes Lankford’s role as chairman of the Republican Policy Committee has made him a crucial link between House leadership and rank-and-file members.
That will give Lankford — and therefore, Oklahoma — considerable influence over future debates on immigration, transportation, and education.
Lankford’s demeanor is credited with building good relations in Congress while remaining true to conservative philosophy. “I want us to be known more for what we represent and what we stand for than the volume with which we say it,” Lankford said.
Oklahomans can be proud to have a congressman who proves influence is not incompatible with humility and thoughtfulness.
Why should unclassified state employees have to resign in order to run for public office? They shouldn’t, and a bill by state Rep. Donnie Condit would change the law that now requires them to do so.
House Bill 1238 is headed to the Senate after winning easy approval this week in the House.
The current law “is especially hard on candidates who are not elected, but are now out of a job,” said Condit, D-McAlester. He said the fact current law takes effect at the time of filing instead of at the time of election was probably an oversight by a previous Legislature.
Perhaps, but it’s about time the change is made. Provided state employees who want to run for office don’t conduct their campaigns while at work, there is no compelling reason not to change the law.
Workers’ compensation reform is often viewed as an issue important to a sliver of Oklahoma’s business community, but a source of indifference for most citizens. A new poll suggests that this may no longer be the case.
A SoonerPoll.com survey of likely Oklahoma voters showed 72.5 percent felt changes should be made to the current workers’ compensation system with two-thirds believing the current system hurts Oklahoma businesses. Only 8.7 percent disagreed with a potential change to an administrative-based system.
An outright majority of Democrats surveyed agreed that shifting to an administrative system could be beneficial.
Because the poll was commissioned by the State Chamber Research Foundation, some will question its findings. But it’s not unreasonable to think most Oklahomans, having lived their entire lives hearing of problems with the current work comp system, have concluded it’s time to junk it. Lawmakers should take note.
For the first time in decades, the Oklahoma Senate met behind closed doors in executive session. A spokesman claimed the topic Monday was “decorum and Senate tradition.” Legislators say they were encouraged to reread the chamber’s rules and code of conduct.
Supposedly, this admonition was prompted because Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, referred to Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, as “Matlock” during floor activity. Another lawmaker referred to a colleague by first name rather than by his title of senator.
If the reports are accurate, it hardly seems worthy of a high-profile secret meeting. And given that Matlock reportedly argued 173 cases over nine TV seasons and lost only two (including one successfully retried), is that really an insult?
Decorum matters, but legislators should be more mindful of these titles — “boss” and “employee.” Oklahoma voters are the former; legislators are the latter. Senators should keep that in mind before telling their bosses a meeting is “none of your business.”
Restoration of the 2 percent payroll tax cut on Jan. 1 was a type of sequestration, says a blog posting by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, the conservative counterpart to OK Policy.
In response to Barack Obama’s Chicken Littleism about effects of that other sequestration, the OCPA says average folks took a pay cut when the payroll tax went back to its previous rate. OCPA says the headlines today should be on the order of “Family Eliminates One Movie Outing Per Month” or “Billy Settles for Regular Shoes, Not Air Jordans!” instead of “Sequestration Will Destroy Nation As We Know It!” — or some such.
Families react to having less money by making “simple, minor adjustments in their spending practices, with little or no pain and cost, to reflect the 2 percent taxpayer sequester,” the blog says.
Obama? The Great Divider reacts with partisan fear-mongering.