The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Oklahoma Edition

November 4, 2010

More comments on Tuesday’s election results, this time with a focus on my home state of Oklahoma:


The Good:

Sad to say, there isn’t much good news to report from the Sooner State.

Oklahoma passed State Question 757, which will require 15% (formerly only 10%) of “surplus” revenue to go into the “rainy day fund.”  Right now the state’s “rainy day fund” is fully depleted.  (The dark cloud that accompanies this silver lining is that the measure only passed 51% to 49%.)

SQ 754, the Legislature’s reaction to SQ 744 (see below), would have amended the state constitution to forbid or repeal any amendments that would require appropriations based on formulas or spending in other states.  It also would have forbidden future constitutional amendments changing or repealing this provision!  Is that even legal?  We won’t ever have to find out – Oklahoma voters defeated this question soundly by a vote of 63%-37%.

SQ 750 reduced the number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition for the ballot in the two years after a presidential election.  But it only passed 50.4% to 49.6%

The Bad:

SQ 744 went down to resounding defeat, 81% to 19%. Always something of  a pipe dream, this question was definitely a “bridge too far.”  It would have required the State Legislature to appropriate enough money for schools such that the per-pupil average was no less than the average spent by the six contiguous states.  Oppenents said that the state just doesn’t have that much money (duh!), but no one seems to have picked up on the obvious point:  since the decimation of the tax base during the Frank Keating Administration, Oklahoma can’t even raise enough money through taxes to be close to average in what we spend on our kids.  Maybe they should have aimed for only 90% parity with surrounding states, because we like being below average in Oklahoma – in everything but football.  We’re the polar opposite of Lake Woebegon.

In the governor’s race, Mary Fallin (R) defeated Jari Askins (D) by a 60%-40% vote.  After the primaries, Oklahoma was assured its first woman governor.  Askins had defeated AG Drew Edmondson in the Democratic primary.  I think that Edmondson would have been a far stronger candidate than Askins, but it’s unlikely that even the popular Edmondson could have overcome the Republican tsunami that swept through Oklahoma yesterday.

After singing its praises of Askins’ record, the Tulsa World said this about Mary Fallin:  “Fallin, meanwhile, has campaigned mainly on generalities and platitudes: opposing “Obamacare,” fighting the liberals in Washington and growing the economy.  Those things make good TV sound bites but they have little to do with governing the state of Oklahoma. Indeed, if fighting the liberals in Washington is her concern, Fallin would be better off to stay in her current job in the U.S. Congress, where that battlefield is.”   But “fighting the liberals in Washington” is what us Okies really care about – even in our local politicians.

Oklahoma Republians ran the table in the election of the other eight elected state officials.  That included ouster of an entirely competent and consumer-oriented insurance commissioner.  The most egrigious mistake was the election of Scott Pruitt (R) over Jim Priest (D) for attorney general.  Pruitt is manifestly unqualified for the job, but won on his promise to sue the Federal government about Obamacare.  Or something.  But that was what Mary Fallin promised too, so I guess they make a great couple.

I’m old enought to remember when Republicans used to whine that Oklahoma needed to be a two-party state because one party in control of everything wasn’t healthy.  Those days apparently are gone for good.

The Ugly:

Oklahoma passed the following constitutional amendments (“yes” vote percentages in parentheses):

SQ 751 requires that all official State actions be in English or a Native American language. (76%)

SQ 755 forbids Oklahoma courts from considering international law or Sharia law.  (70%)

SQ 746 requires that all voters present their picture ID or voter registration card.  (74%)

(Does anyone think that maybe Oklahomans are xenophobic and afraid of non-existent threats?)

SQ 748 adds the President Pro-tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to the Legislative Apportionment Commission, replacing other elected officials.  (58%)

SQ 752 gives the  President Pro-tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House additional influence over the Judicial Nominating Commission.  (63%)

(Nothing like getting the State Legialature’s leaders more deeply involved in the process of selecting judges and legislative redistricting, is there?)



  1. I am glad those questions came out as they did. I particular was happy about that Health CARE question. This is USA.. was shouted very loudly in Oklahoma!

  2. …sry bird – the health care one is 1) violates Federal law.. 2) is moot anyway becasue the current law does not force anybody …. read it.

    Even better yet the HCR law was written as an entitlement – so the GOP threat to defund it is not possible – hot air. It’s repeal or nothing and they do not have the votes to override a Obama veto.

    Better, better yet when you get down to specifics of the law rather than fear mongering most support it.

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