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In final days before election, many pressures to go negative (Capitol Update)

by | August 20th, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Elections | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

With about a week to go, the statewide runoff campaigns have turned negative. Surprise, Surprise. People wonder why this happens. It happens for two reasons: Neither candidate wants to lose — and it works. Most of us have something in our lives we’d just as soon everyone not know about. It could be something personal like an embarrassing family situation. Or, perhaps it’s something in our business dealings like a lawsuit. For people with a record in politics, it’s often having taken an unpopular stand on an issue or having made a stupid remark publicly.

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Reconsider the runoff

by | August 15th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (1)

Max West was an OK Policy summer intern. He is a recent graduate of Rogers State University with a degree in Public Affairs, and recently began law school at Oklahoma City University School of Law.

There were many surprising outcomes of the Oklahoma primary election in June. Some incumbents lost long-held seats, others came very close. We saw record turnout and even passed a medical marijuana state question. We also saw an unusually high number of primary races that failed to produce an outright winner and that will be decided in a runoff election later this month.

If history is a guide, many of the voters who flocked to the polls in June will sit out the election in August.  This means that a shrunken electorate will get to decide which candidates will move on to become their party’s candidate, and in many cases win election for their entire district.  Reduced turnout is one of several reasons why it is worth reconsidering the runoff and exploring other approaches to choosing our elected representatives.

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Five things we know about Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative elections – pre-runoff update

by | August 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (3)

Several months ago, we wrote about this year’s Oklahoma elections following the candidate filing period. Based on the unusually high numbers of open seats, candidates filing for office,  and challenges to incumbents, it already looked as if 2018 could be a landmark year in Oklahoma politics. Now, following what was an historic primary election in June, we know for certain that this is one of the most interesting and unexpected election years in Oklahoma in a long time. As we approach the runoff elections on August 28th, here are five things we know.

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Episode 33: Keith Gaddie on the forces shaking Oklahoma politics

by | July 10th, 2018 | Posted in Elections, Podcast | Comments (2)

You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OK PolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

Keith Gaddie

A couple weeks ago was one of the most interesting and unexpected elections in Oklahoma in a long time. From a big surge in turnout, strong approval of medical marijuana, and numerous incumbents either being forced into a runoff or voted out altogether, it’s clear that something is changing in Oklahoma politics.

What happened, what does it mean for the coming runoffs and general elections, and what will our state look like after it all shakes out? To better understand these questions, I spoke to Keith Gaddie, a political science professor at the University of Oklahoma and one of the most well informed, insightful, and balanced commentators on Oklahoma politics today.

You can download the podcast here, subscribe at the links above, or play it in your browser:

More people voted, and it mattered (Capitol Update)

by | July 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Elections | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

This election year in Oklahoma, and probably nationally, is shaping up to be one of the strangest in a while. So far, the best explanation seems to be “participation.” For quite a while now, a lot of people have just been absent from the political process. Probably many felt their participation didn’t matter. As a result, some candidates who logically would seem unelectable have gotten elected or re-elected because of the apathy. At least for this election cycle, that seems to have changed. Whether it’s the medical marijuana question or outrage over education and other issues, people voted, and it mattered.

But the question remains, what will be the effect of the increased participation. Well, it was immediately discernible on medical marijuana. It’s amazing what a 14-point victory will do. Before the election it was hard to find a politician speaking kindly of the state question. The governor was going to call a special session, and the legislature seemed ready to come in and re-write the measure. Now, it’s just fine to let the Health Department take care of it.

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Judges on the Ballot in Oklahoma: What you need to know

by | June 6th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice, Elections | Comments (13)

Photo by julochka / CC BY-NC 2.0

The original version of this post was authored by past OK Policy intern Forrest Farjadian. It was updated for 2018 by OK Policy intern Max West.

Oklahoma is one of 39 states where voters have a role in selecting judges. On November 6, Oklahoma voters will decide whether to retain five Supreme Court justices, two Court of Criminal Appeals judges, and four Court of Civil Appeals judges. Judicial elections usually don’t attract as much publicity as other races, so we’re taking a look at how judges are chosen, what’s at stake in the elections, and how you can learn about the candidates.

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What we know – and don’t know – about the revenue bill veto challenge

by | May 23rd, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Budget, Education, Elections, Taxes | Comments (3)

In late March, on the eve of an anticipated teacher walk-out, Oklahoma lawmakers approved a series of bills intended to provide pay raises for teachers, school support staff, and state employees. To pay for the raises, lawmakers approved a number of revenue measures, including HB 1010xx, which managed to overcome the three-quarter supermajority requirement for tax increases established under State Question 640.

In May, a group called Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite launched a veto referendum petition drive that, if successful, would submit HB 1010xx to a vote of the people to approve or reject the new law. This effort has been designated Repeal Petition 25 (R.P. 25); if it gets on the ballot, it will be State Question 799. On June 22nd, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the referendum petition, ruling that it was misleading and fatally flawed. The organizers subsequently announced that they were abandoning the petition effort, ensuring that both the tax increases and the pay raises would take effect on schedule.

This post addresses key questions related to the veto referendum effort. Language in bold reflects the Supreme Court’s June 22nd ruling, which renders moot much of the discussion on this page.  (Last Updated: July 9th)

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What we know about Oklahoma’s 2018 legislative elections

by | May 10th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Elections | Comments (2)

The filing period for the 2018 elections concluded on April 13th, one day after the Oklahoma Education Association announced the end to the two-week teacher walkout that brought tens of thousands of educators and their supporters to the Capitol on a daily basis. Many teachers vowed to turn their energy to the upcoming election campaigns, committing themselves to work to support pro-education candidates on the primary and general election ballots.

We don’t know yet what impact the mobilization of educators, or other local and national trends, will ultimately have on the election results, but here are five things we do know about the 2018 elections:

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Six takeaways from Tuesday’s vote

by | November 14th, 2016 | Posted in Elections | Comments (2)

I-votedWhile most of the attention in Oklahoma last week focused on the geological earthquake that shook the state and the political earthquake that shook the nation, the state election results got less detailed coverage. Here are a few of our important takeaways from the vote:

Turnout was up

A total of 1,451,056 Oklahomans cast ballots for President, according to data provided by the State Election Board. That’s 132,000 more than the Presidential votes cast in 2012 (1,332,872), a 9.9 percent increase, but almost identical to the numbers in 2008 (1,462,661) and 2004 (1,463,758). Oklahoma saw a big increase in early voting: over 152,000 people took advantage of in-person early voting, compared to a previous high of 114,000 in 2008. The turnout rate of registered voters was 67.3 percent, also up from 2012. We won’t have numbers on the turnout rate for eligible voters — which includes those who are not registered to vote – until the Census Bureau releases data from its voter survey, but it should be up slightly from the 52.4 percent of eligible voters who voted in 2012.

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Hofmeister indictment highlights need for better campaign finance laws (Capitol Updates)

by | November 10th, 2016 | Posted in Capitol Updates, Elections | Comments (1)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

dark moneyAlmost everyone seems to agree that excessive money has fouled our politics in this country, but no one can figure out what to do about it. The latest manifestation of the problem is the surprise filing of felony counts by Oklahoma County DA David Prater against State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, the leaders of two respected Oklahoma education organizations, and two Republican political operatives.

The shocking case is a tragedy for those charged, their families and close friends, and the entire state, especially public education. It will also be a negative influence in the lives of those close to the situation who were not charged but whose actions will be scrutinized and who will be witnesses at trial. No matter the eventual outcome, a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money will be expended by everyone involved. Looking at the charges and the affidavit accompanying them, it seems unlikely the case will go away quickly or inexpensively.

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