Monday, November 01, 2010

Vote for the Chicken!

I was looking at my sample ballot today from the Cleveland County Election Board website so I could get a handle on the myriad statewide races that I have not bothered to look into yet.
First thing I noticed was the choice between the flying eagle (Republicans) and the strutting chicken (Democrats) for the straight party voting option. In almost every other state, the official image for the Democratic Party is the donkey. Oklahoma is one of only a few states to use a rooster as the Democrats' symbol, which apparently has a long and storied history that I read about here. As we are a change-averse state, it doesn't surprise me to see an icon from a different time still surviving on our ballots.

Anyway, here are the choices for elected offices on my sample ballot.

Mary Fallin - Republican
Jari Askins - Democrat

The highest profile of all the races, I won't waste time talking about them here.

My vote: Askins

Lieutenant Governor:
Todd Lamb - Republican
Kenneth Corn - Democrat
Richard Prawdzienski - Independent

Todd Lamb and Kenneth Corn are both in the state legislature. Richard Prawdzienski is actually a Libertarian. In an Oklahoma Gazette profile, Corn emphasized jobs, education, and lobbying reform, while Lamb emphasized jobs, economic development and tort reform. In a League of Women Voters profile, Prawdzienski emphasized limited government, business creativity and liquor store reform. Corkscrews for the people!

My vote: Corn, but without much enthusiasm.

State Auditor and Inspector:
Gary Jones - Republican
Steve Burrage - Democrat

Steve Burrage is the incumbent State Auditor, having been nominated by Brad Henry to fill a vacancy caused by corruption charges. Steve Burrage got the endorsement from Brad Henry, of course, but also from the Daily Oklahoman, a newspaper whose editorial board usually recommends Republicans. His challenger is Gary Jones, who has unsuccessfully run for this office two other times. Apparently this campaign is nasty, according to Jones and the Republican news site The McCarville Report. Among Jones's claims is that Burrage said he was thrown out of office by the voters. Jones retorts that he merely lost an election. Hmm.

My vote: Burrage. If a Democrat can get an endorsement from the Oklahoma, they must be doing something right.

Attorney General:
Scott Pruitt - Republican
Jim Priest - Democrat

My vote: Priest.

State Treasurer:
Ken Miller - Republican
Stephen E Covert - Democrat

How unfortunate for the Democrats to have a candidate named Covert. If they try to donate to his campaign, the headlines will surely read "Democrats Fund Covert Operation". Perhaps a lack of funding explains why Covert's official website looks like a Geocities page from 1996. Ken Miller, a state legislator, is well-funded and has a professional website proclaiming his dislike for spending of any kind, and he will let his conservative values guide him. Current state treasurer Scott Meachem, a Democrat, is not running for another term and has endorsed Miller, a Republican. But Stephen E. Covert is the only one to point out the constitutional limitations on the office of the treasurer, pointing out that his opponent is going around acting like he can make policy. And Covert is, as he puts it, the only CPA in the race, even if his low-technology style does give his official campaign photo a passing resemblence to the stapler guy from Office Space. Can't you just picture Covert fondling a Swingline in his left hand?

My vote: Covert

Superintendent of Public Instruction
Janet Barresi - Republican
Susan Paddack - Democrat
Richard E Cooper - Independent

Barresi is the founder of two successful charter schools and is also a dentist. Paddack is a state senator from Ada and a former science teacher. Cooper is an educator also from Ada. Barresi is for expansion of charter schools, testing reform, and local control of schools. She is adamantly opposed to State Question 744, although she does misrepresent its accountability measures (Barresi thinks there will be no invoice telling how the money is spent, but one of the few things SQ 744 does mandate is that there will be a report published telling how the money is spent). Paddack is hard to pin down. She has refused to take an official position on SQ 744. Cooper is all for SQ 744. According to this Oklahoma Gazette profile, none of them seem to have a response to the perceived exodus of teachers to other higher-paying states (Paddack: Please stay! Barresi: We'll get rid of some onerous rules for you. Cooper: We'll get creative about job titles.) I heard part of a debate among the three candidates this past week as I was waiting for a tow truck to show up, and I found Paddack and Barresi to be well-spoken and assured, even though it was still hard to determine exactly what Paddack was for. For what it's worth, Paddack has the endorsement of Brad Henry and the Norman Transcript, while Barresi has the endorsement of Senator Jim Inhofe and the Oklahoman.

I think there are lots of reasons to vote for any of these candidates. I like Barresi's "research-based" strategies and her openness to merit pay for teachers, but I also like the fact that Paddack is less likely to be in favor of vouchers and "local control". It seems that conservatives really like Barresi, which I think is enough to turn me to voting for Susan Paddack.

Commissioner of Labor
Mark Costello - Republican
Lloyd L Fields - Democrat

Lloyd Fields famously ended up in the detox center in Oklahoma City after a night where he "attempted to steal a professional bull rider's guitar". He also has been sued for "political harassment" and back child support. Republican Mark Costello has jumped all over this story. He got the professional bull rider to support him. He made a Jib-Jab-like video of all of the rest of Fields' misdeeds. And he even found time to record a jingle for himself to the tune of Mellow Yellow, with the lyrics "Vote for Mark Costello (labor commish!)/ He's the right fellow (that's right!)". What this all has to do with the Department of Labor, I don't really know. The Norman Transcript supports neither candidate.

My vote: Costello

Insurance Commissioner
John Doak - Republican
Kim Holland - Democrat

Kim Holland, the only Democrat to be leading in the polls for statewide office, is more of an independent than a liberal. She is racking up endorsements from all over the political spectrum, including the right-leaning Daily Oklahoman (her website* lists them all). John Doak is obsessed with getting rid of the new federal health care law. He has joined a federal lawsuit against it. He has made an ad where all he does is talk about how much it removes choice. He is spearheading a yes on State Question 756 campaign (the one that says no to ObamaCare). He has even tied Holland to Obama in another ad (She was a delegate! How awful!).

My vote: Holland

*Note: If you're stumbling around online for information about the race for insurance commissioner, perhaps while making a blog post, don't decide to bypass the convenient Google search toolbar in the upper right corner of your screen and type in instead to see if there's anything there. Because there is something there, and it is incredibly NSFW.

U.S. Senator
Tom Coburn - Republican
Jim Rogers - Democrat
Stephen P. Wallace - Independent
Ronald F. Dwyer - Independent

I'm not going to vote for Tom Coburn, so this section will be about all those other guys. Today I ran across a piece written for by Josh Fruhlinger, who also happens to run another of my favorite sites, the Comics Curmudgeon. The Wonkette piece is entitled "Grizzled Old Coot Will Be Oklahoma's Next Democratic Senator". Among the many theories about how Jim Rogers, the White Alvin Greene, got to be the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate was that voters may have thought he was related to Will Rogers.

Jim Rogers is not in fact related to Will Rogers, although he is like Will Rogers in that he doesn’t have a website. But who needs a website when you have an enormous sign that you can hold up in the direction of oncoming traffic — a sign that, as near as we can tell, declares that “US MILITARY PD TINKER AFB USPS VETERANS FDX UPS TAX PAYERS OHP TRUCKERS OPE [...] CHURCH?”

As for the other two candidates, they both appear to be conservative Republicans in disguise. Tulsan Stephen P. Wallace actually has a website: he is for abolishing the "death/estate tax", a "fiscal freeze" on all federal branches of government, and "Constitutional Amendment for Balance the Budget." Ronald F. Dwyer, another Tulsan, is even more mysterious and, if possible, more grammatically incorrect. I have scoured the internet for some record of this Ronald F. Dwyer person, and all I can find is this statement he gave to the Oklahoma Prosperity Project, an organization tied to the Chamber of Commerce.

I have a program to be put into federal law that can increase the monthly income by $4,000+ of every man, woman and child in Oklahoma; Every business, company, organization, church, charity, etc. My program will eliminate unemployment, welfare programs, etc. My program will provide a new way to finance government (at all levels) by helping people make money instead of taxing (taking money) from the people. 'Welcome to the Golden Age!'

Oklahoma does not allow anyone to write in a candidate for office, unlike most other states. This proves to be a problem for me in this U.S. Senate race. I'm not going to vote for Coburn, Dwyer or Wallace, and I don't want to reward Jim Rogers for lucking into the Democratic nomination. I may just leave this one blank.

Judicial Retention

Supreme Court
Stephen W. Taylor
James R. Winchester

Both of these men are highly qualified. Taylor is a Brad Henry nominee, and Winchester is a Frank Keating nominee. I'm going to vote to retain both.

Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals

Deborah Barnes
Doug Gabbard III
John Fischer
Larry E. Joplin

Muskogee Politico
, a right-wing blog, suggests voting no on retention of these judges because they were appointed by Democratic governors, and their vacancies would be filled by Mary Fallin, presumptive governor-elect. This is the reason I am going to vote to retain all four of these judges.

State Senator, District 16
Sharon Parker - Republican
John Sparks - Democrat

My vote: Sparks

State Representative, District 44
Kent Hunt - Republican
Emily Virgin - Democrat

My vote: Virgin

County Treasurer
Jim Reynolds - Republican
Mona Nelson - Democrat

The Norman Transcript has an article about this race
. Mona Nelson is a deputy county treasurer with 25 years of relevant experience. Reynolds is a state senator who is campaigning on being a conservative, and he hopes you'll agree with him that we need conservatives in all parts of the government.

My vote: Nelson

County Commissioner, District 3
Rusty Sullivan - Republican
Jim Robertson - Democrat

The Norman Transcript also has an article about this race. Jim Robertson, a "graduate of life experience," is challenging Commissioner Rusty Sullivan, a Republican with endorsements from local Republicans and some local Democrats. Jim Robertson wants to stand up to unspecified "men in suits" responsible for certain misdeeds in the county. Both men want to build roads.

My vote: Sullivan

District Judges

Tracy Schumacher
Jonathan Nichols

Norman Transcript article.

Schumacher has experience as a defense attorney. This simple fact has caused her to be labeled "soft on crime" by Nichols, a Republican state senator. But this world needs more defense attorneys as judges.

My vote: Schumacher

Greg Dixon
John Mantooth

Norman Transcript article.

Mantooth is able to self finance most of his campaign. Dixon was a former football player for Barry Switzer. Neither of these facts really sway me that much.

My vote: Dixon

Jeff Harley Bryant
Tom Lucas

Norman Transcript article.

Lucas has apparently been there for a long time and is competent and well-liked.

My vote: Lucas

Charles L. Broadway
Lori Walkley

Norman Transcript article.

Charles Broadway has been adding little stickers to his signs all over town stating that he is the "true conservative".

My vote: Walkley

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