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Oklahoma Politics

House Majority Leader Carl Albert (D-Okla.) sits in the Oval Office with President Lyndon Johnson.
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library

Southeast Oklahoma is an unusual place, politically. Many southerners settled in the area after the Civil War, leading to its nickname “Little Dixie.”

Through the 20th century, it became the center of political power in Oklahoma, and the Democratic Party dominated politics well into the late 1990s. Decades after the formerly “Solid South” had switched to the Republican Party, Democrats enjoyed an 8:1 voter registration advantage in southeast Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State Capitol
mrlaugh / Flickr

The 55th Oklahoma Legislature wrapped up its first session a little over two weeks ago on May 22, one week ahead of the constitutionally required deadline to adjourn.

Lawmakers passed bond issues for widely publicized museums in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. But the $611 million shortfall in the state budget dominated the conversation from January to May, even though details of the $7.1 billion agreement didn't emerge until shortly before the gavel fell. To plug that gap, lawmakers cut most agency budgets by five to seven percent, and also used monies from the state's Rainy Day Fund and state agency revolving accounts.

Randy Brogdon / Facebook

The Oklahoma Republican Party ousted its chairman on Saturday despite the party's November election success in increasing its majority control of both chambers of the state Legislature, winning every statewide elected office, all five U.S. House and both U.S. Senate seats.

The party elected former state Sen. Randy Brogdon as its new chairman, replacing Dave Weston. Party spokeswoman Courtney Blossey said Brogdon defeated long-time GOP activist Pam Pollard in a runoff after Weston was earlier eliminated from the race.

President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney talk in the Oval Office following their Nov. 29, 2012 lunch.
Pete Souza / The White House

For the past three presidential election cycles, Oklahoma has cemented its status as the “reddest of the red states.” No Democratic presidential candidate has won a single county in Oklahoma since Al Gore in 2000, and in 2004 neither incumbent President George W. Bush nor Democratic nominee John Kerry visited the state nor spent any advertising dollars here.

Oklahoma received only $1,300 in ad revenue from national GOP and Democratic organizations during the 2012 election cycle, according to campaign finance data analyzed by FairVote and The Journal Record's Brian Brus:

Gov. Mary Fallin during her 2015 State of the State address Feb. 2, 2015.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers gathered for the first official day of the legislative session Monday to hear Gov. Mary Fallin’s annual State of the State address. The Democratic Party praised the governor for finding focus in her initiatives.

House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) described his party as being cautiously optimistic following the Fallin’s call to concentrate on education, healthcare and criminal justice reform this legislative session. But the majority and minority parties differ, Inman said, on how best to carry out those reforms.

President Obama delivers his annual State of the Union address Tuesday night before a joint session of Congress.
The White House / Twitter

Most of Oklahoma’s Congressional delegation and executive leadership criticized President Obama’s annual State of the Union address Tuesday night – some even before the speech took place.

Gov. Mary Fallin says Obama can achieve his goal of improving the economic conditions of the middle class by relying on the energy sector to grow the economy and raise per-capita income.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview) at Gov. Mary Fallin's State of the State address - February 3, 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Members of the House and Senate are convening at the Capitol to formally elect their leaders and adopt their rules for the upcoming legislative session.

Both chambers will convene at noon on Tuesday for an organizational day called for in the Oklahoma Constitution before the start of each new two-year Legislature. After each body elects its leaders, approves rules and formally certifies 2014 election results, they will adjourn until Feb. 2.

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) speaking during a 2013 town hall meeting.
Congressman Jim Bridenstine / Facebook

U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine of Tulsa is vowing not to vote to re-elect U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, criticizing his fellow Republican from Ohio over a budget deal forged with President Barack Obama.

In a statement on Friday, Bridenstine says the $1.1 trillion spending bill that funds the federal government for the next 10 months takes away the best tool Republicans have to "rein in our liberal activist President: the power of the purse."

Nicholas Henderson / Flickr

The state agency that enforces campaign-finance rules has failed to collect a large majority of late-filing fees from political groups and candidates and this year stopped assessing the fees altogether, according to state records and interviews.

As of early 2014, candidates, their campaigns and other organizations owed the Oklahoma Ethics Commission more than $200,000 in unpaid fees for late or no filing of statements of income and spending, commission records show.

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

A closer-than-expected governor’s race, a neck-and-neck standoff for the state superintendent seat and several competitive state Senate seats comprise Tuesday’s general election.

Early voting began Thursday and continued through Saturday. Winners will take their seats at the start of the legislative session early next year.

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