If you were looking for upsets in the state of Oklahoma on election night, you probably went to bed not feeling so good. On a Judicial level, there were a few minor tremors, but nothing earth shattering. So, let's take a look, shall we?
Governor Mary Fallin defeated former State Representative Joe Dorman in a race that was a little closer than most pundits imagined. I believed that Fallin would win by at least 20 points and that is not because of anything horribly wrong about Joe Dorman, but rather because Governor Fallin's campaign staff are some of the best in the business and they simply don't lose. Joe made some mistakes, to be sure - like having a staff of relative newbies to the statewide political game, young people with a ton of energy but not a lot of experience. When facing a formidable opponent like Governor Fallin, without the best of the best, you're showing up to a gun fight with a spaghetti noodle.
Todd Lamb defeated Cathy Cummings. No surprise. At all. Except that she garnered 30% of the vote. In four years, look for Lt. Governor Lamb run for the Governor's Mansion.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Joy Hofmeister fought a hell of a fight against the outgoing Superintendent and faced a pretty tough opponent, however, her biggest opponent was really the negative press that her consulting firm received. When Chad Alexander got arrested, the media was quick to jump all over it and they hung it around her neck. And then there's the ethics investigation by the District Attorney...who knows where that will end up? Her Democratic opponent ran a pretty clean race, and only brought up the issues that the media had already addressed. It was a tight race for much of the evening, but she pulled it out in the end. And yes, she is super attractive. That didn't hurt her at all.
Snooze City. Costello (R) defeated a morbidly under funded Workman. This race is emblematic of the problems in the Oklahoma Democratic Party. The Democrats on a national level have pretty much written off Oklahoma as the northernmost suburb of Texas and just isn't financially supporting the party enough for Democratic candidates to gain any traction in statewide elections. This is an indicator of things to come for the Oklahoma Democratic Party. In order for the ODP to maintain any sense of relevancy in Oklahoma, it must embrace its Blue Dog roots, otherwise they may as well close up shop.
A Republican sweep in Oklahoma. If you are surprised by that, you're an idiot and probably can't read this anyway. It is significant to note that for the first time in God knows how long, Oklahoma has sent a Veteran to Washington rather than some entitled career politician - and we've sent a war veteran. Perhaps now we can see some movement where revitalizing the Veteran's Administration is concerned.
Senator Inhofe won, again, and replacing Tom Coburn is none other than James Lankford. One can only hope that he's more effective in the Senate than he was in the U.S. House. Senator-elect Lankford is a nice man and he received a lot of support from the Oklahoma GOP - just as he did in his House race.
The one race that I watched for the Bench was that of Judge Roger Stuart. Stuart narrowly defeated Amy Palumbo by 1% of the vote - and no doubt the Palumbo camp will ask for a recount. Stuart was and is one hell of a good Judge. He handled one of the toughest courtrooms in all of Oklahoma - the Juvenile Court. Tragic stories, one after another, and this man handled it with grace and common sense. Why Palumbo even ran against him is a mystery.
What did we learn?
The electorate is really, really pissed off at this administration and it looks like the GOP Congressional victories are evidence therein. For a President whose administration saw the killing of Bin Laden, it's unbelievable the backlash that has been unleashed in Washington. And yes, this mid-term election was and is to be considered somewhat of a referendum. 2016 is going to be wickedly entertaining.
We also learned that Oklahoma is still, and will continue to be, a very red state. The GOP owns this place and will continue to for the foreseeable future. The GOP inertia was begun by Gary Jones, and under his leadership, the Republicans took the State House for the first time in like a million years and after him, Matt Pinnell rode the wave and helped even more candidates see victories in otherwise Democratic districts.
What can we expect?
You can NOT expect to see any movement toward ballot access or legalization of medical marijuana. Even though the uber-conservative Colorado (home of Focus on the Family) has legalized marijuana, don't expect the Sooner State to do so anytime soon. If Oklahoma were to do something as radical as that, the earth would probably stop spinning on its axis and Pastor Paul Blair would convert to Catholicism - neither are very likely.
Ron "Gorilla" Black