Tuesday, December 4, 2012

State House Election Reflection 2012

First of all, I would like to say thank you. Thank you to each and every volunteer, donor and voter that supported election my efforts. Thank you especially to Jackie, Trey, David, Matt, Dana, Jeff, Mike, Trav, Glenn and Marguerite for your support and advice. This effort would have been so much harder without you. I truly enjoyed knocking doors and getting out to voters to make my case to be their representative.

After having several weeks to recover (and get married!), I wanted to provide a detailed account of my own race and what the implications are locally. I’ll do another post on the national election and evaluate the direction of our country. There is a long philosophical discussion being had via a variety of proxy arguments which I would like to cut through.

HD 87

My race did not turn out as I had hoped, but it had some challenges that ultimately were not that surprising. One thing I did prior to the race was to study the numbers and demographics of the district. While they are changing to be more liberal or partial to a Democratic candidate those shifts are slow.

The numbers I had previously studied suggested for the district suggested a performance similar to how it ended up. In 2008, this was one of the closest elections in the state with the Democrat losing by a mere 170 or so votes. In 2010, it was around a 700 vote difference in favor of the Republican. In 2012, I lost by a bit over 1,000. There are several explanations for this. The first is the redistricting of the 2010 census. Several highly Democratic districts were sent to HD 88 (a highly Democratic district) and several Republican leaning districts were added. Combine this with the significantly lower turnout compared to 2008 and you have a series of numbers similar to what the Democratic candidate had gotten in 2008 and 2010. Another challenge and something for the numbers people is there was also a lot of correlation to how the president performed and how I did. Given President Obama's lack of popularity, it certainly did not help the cause.

There are several moral victories. One is that I spent far less than anyone in years and less than any serious race state-wide. I only spent about $25,000 with Nelson sitting on nearly three times that in the final weeks of the campaign with more coming in. Many candidates spent far more than I did only to get beat by wider margins.

Another more personal victory was that I ran the campaign I wanted. I had no special interest resources pouring into my campaign. I specifically rejected PAC or committee money (several thousand dollars worth). The support of the party structure or outside groups was light. Volunteers, contributions, and most of the messaging and design work were done by my campaign (and many dear friends) directly. All contributions were from individuals.

The last positive is that we ran a race based on messaging that is important and broadly supported. Independence from corporate contributions, community driven legislation (as opposed to national special interests writing and driving the bills), and support for our public education system. I still believe bolstering these concepts are the key to many of our problems, especially, our national distrust in the role and purpose of government.

State Politics moving forward

On a local level, the power is now firmly in the hands of the Republicans. It is hard to say what strategies will be coming up. Politics is an ever shifting sea of public sentiment and posturing.

I would anticipate some socially conservative messaging, fiscal conservatives will demand a reduction in services, there will continue to be a push to privatize traditionally government services (look for this most in public education) and there will be a focus on making government more bureaucratically accountable than ever.

For local social conservatives, we might see the continued efforts to declare marriage (yet again) to be between a man and a woman, efforts to redefine biology and rational ethics by defining a fetus as having all of the rights as fully birthed human being at the point of conception. The will continue to push the hypocritical argument that because they are forced to pay for a single aspect of our health services that they morally oppose (as if all of us agree on every dollar of military spending or corporate welfare), the entire law should fall. If you want to live socially conservatively, please do so, just don’t make everyone else do it too.

For fiscal conservatives, they will continue to further convince each other that services should be reduced in all cases. Despite record numbers of incarcerated people in our prisons, uninsured and poverty stricken citizens, the answer to our problems is to somehow make do with less. Never mind that some increase in government spending is the direct result of an increasing population, the message will be to cut, cut, cut. Thankfully this argument is losing some steam nationally and while budget reform is critically important, so is taking care of our poor, sick, elderly and children.     

For the privatization conservative, look no further than public education. The argument between a publicly available good or service and a private one notwithstanding, the idea that the market solves all ills will rear its head again. Education is one of the last great industries that has not been majority privatized. While I do see the obvious benefits of a market based solution, ethically, I feel some goods and services should not be at the whims of the profit motive. Introducing more and more vouchers or other tools to privatize education will create a further stratification of the haves and have nots. On one side you will have the people that can utilize a voucher and pay any differences and on the other you will have more and more children left behind. Efforts to privatize public education will be out in force.

For the accountability conservative, you will see it most in public education and DHS and notably absent in the legislative committee rooms or the governorship. It is curious how it is okay to propose and implement mind numbing bureaucracy on an institution when it serves your political purpose but then turn around and decry bureaucracy when it is against your interests. Namely, the governor and the legislators do not want more transparency or accountability. They don’t want to be forced to explain any more than they have to.

I detest hypocrisy in all its forms. Public or private, our world needs less red tape. Bureaucracy is to stop bad or dumb people from doing bad or dumb things. Bad people should be punished and dumb people should be educated. We don’t need to introduce more red tape to our civic organizations. We need to clear it out. That said, the people who are supposed to be in charge should be held to a high degree of accountability. With great power comes some pretty hefty responsibility. The current legislature and governor will resist open meetings and transparency, this is not the right direction.

The positive side to all this is they seem incapable of mounting an effective systemic change. The in-fighting and politicizing of trivial issues will slow down the rate of change. At the end of the day, I do not anticipate a governance in Oklahoma that is much different from the past. Squandered opportunities to implement conservative change will likely be the hallmark of the current administration and a keep on keeping on is likely what is in store.

I will remain passionately active in advocating for real solutions. Eliminating a needed or beneficial service is not a solution to our fiscal woes. The real trick is improving it. Increasing its capabilities while reducing its costs. This is not just good business but good sense. Public goods create a stronger more integrated society. Whether we agree with it or not, we are all on this rock together and having public goods enables our society to work and gives us common cause. My goal is to see government work. I want government goods and services, from schools to military to police and fire to our legal system to be something we feel good about, take pride in and think that our money is being spent responsibly and effectively. These services may not have a direct profit motivation but enrich our lives and improve our communities. 

I will be around. I am always open to new ideas, new friends and new opportunities so stay in touch! My last request to end this one is asking for a bit of help settling a few campaign debts. If you can help with any amount, it would be greatly appreciated. See you out there.


  1. Eric Levine on FB made a comment on your blog (how I found you). Good Luck in the future--I know several strongly Dem people out of OK, Eric, you, a fellow from Tulsa named Terry Coppage (bartcop.com)and Steve of blog "Quibbling Potatoes." It seems almost strange such a completely red state (the only other one was Utah)has some of the smartest and most erudite Democrats I know of! Maybe it's seeing those Republicans in every-day life...I used to live in a blue Michigan county, now I am in Lee County, Florida (very red), maybe that will help me too....just kidding. Thanks for your efforts.

  2. Thanks Karen. I think you might be onto something... we are in such a minority here that our arguments have to be rock solid. When I casually debate policy around the water cooler or wherever, I'm usually out numbered 4 to 1. Also, when you are challenged all the time, it forces you to re-examine your arguments. Hopefully it gets me ready for the next challenge!