Election Watch: Legislature
Election Watch: Education

Will Trump’s Election Send Fallin to Washington?

With Donald Trump elected president, Gov. Mary Fallin will possibly be up for an appointment to his administration.

Fallin was an early backer of Trump and during the summer was mentioned as a potential running mate. She stood by him after a videotape emerged that captured his lewd comments about women. She and former GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson stumped for Trump on Saturday in Phoenix.

A Politico article speculates Fallin could be in line for the secretary of the interior position. But it states that Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old co-founder of oil products company Lucas Oil, is a favorite for the position.

But Michael McNutt, a spokesman for Fallin, said Wednesday that the governor “is focused on preparing for the upcoming legislative session and developing the budget.”

“The election just occurred and President-elect Trump has a big task ahead over the next several months as he prepares for the orderly transition to president,” Mcnutt added. “The governor is going to do all she can to help President-elect Trump carry forth his winning agenda for America.”

If Fallin resigned and left for Washington, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb would become governor.

But who his successor would be has been a source a debate because of questions about the interpretation of the state constitution and various legal opinions based around the issue over the decades. However, a 1999 article in the Tulsa Law Review argued the new governor would be able to appoint the next lieutenant governor with the consent of the Senate. The article goes on to argue that the appointee cannot be a sitting legislator.

Legislation was introduced in 2001 to create a state question so a constitutional amendment would clarify that the new governor would make the appointment. The proposal, however, did not pass.

Thoughts on State Questions

SQ 776, Death Penalty
Passing with two-thirds of the vote.

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, sponsor of the measure: “I think it’s common-sense legislation as a state question that would put in the (state) constitution a definition of execution and match it up with the federal definition that it’s not cruel and unusual punishment.”

Ryan Kiesel, executive director of ACLU Oklahoma: “This loss should not be considered a referendum on the death penalty. Opposition to capital punishment in Oklahoma is higher than ever. Despite today’s results, we must continue to push our elected officials to answer the pressing questions about our flawed execution system, most importantly whether or not in a modern society we should be engaging in this brutal and inhumane practice at all.”

SQs 780, 781, Criminal Justice
Passing with between 55 and 60 percent of the vote.

Mark Nelson, vice president of the Oklahoma City Fraternal Order of Police: “We’re disappointed, only because I don’t think Oklahomans understood the inherent dangers that go along with this. That being said, they have spoken and this is what they want, so we will continue to educate both our citizens and our legislators to monitor the unintended consequences that we feel like are very possible with these state questions passing.”

Kris Steele, of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform: “I’m very excited and proud the voters of Oklahoma have declared that it is time to take a smarter approach to criminal justice in Oklahoma. I think the voters at the polls understand that addressing matters of addiction and mental illness with treatment rather than incarceration is much more effective at modifying behavior and help individuals turn their lives around.

“I urge the coalition tonight to recommit themselves to the issue. This is not the end; in reality it’s only the beginning. The real work begins tomorrow and in the months to come in following through and ensuring the will of the people is enacted by properly ensuring these reforms are implemented.”

SQ 790, Religion
Failing with 57 percent against.

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, who paid for the Ten Commandments monument to be placed on the State Capitol grounds: “I’m disappointed it has failed because this is an area the Supreme Court had a problem with called the Blaine amendment. It (the measure) would have allowed the Ten Commandments monument to be returned to the Capitol grounds. Also, this would place in jeopardy private faith-based institutions that take public money, such as hospitals in the Tulsa area.”

Ryan Kiesel, executive director of ACLU Oklahoma: “Today, despite a well-funded and deceptive campaign by the proponents of this state question, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly rejected the dangerous and misguided attempt by politicians to strip away one of our most fundamental protections in exchange for cheap political points. Politicians should take note that attempts to manipulate the law to protect only the rights of a chosen few cannot be tolerated. Legislators and state officials will surely continue their fear-mongering attempts to promote intolerance, but thanks to today’s vote, those who value true religious liberty will retain one more tool in the ongoing fight for liberty and justice for all.”

Aisha Shah
Aisha Shah

The closer than expected presidential race is buoying the hopes of Trump supporters and rattling the nerves of Clinton backers.

At the Democratic watch party at an Oklahoma City restaurant, Aisha Shah, a party outreach official, said, “We expected the red states to come in first. People are panicking … We weren’t expecting him to come this close. It had me on edge for a while.

“I really think sexism has a lot to do with it. The misogyny, the patriarchy,” she said. A Pakistani-American, Shah said she intends to run for in state House District 82 in 2018.

State Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, said, “There are a couple of battleground states still in question. So the electoral vote could still be his. It’s still a fair ballgame.”

State Sen. Kyle Loveless.
State Sen. Kyle Loveless.

In Oklahoma, Too, #Pantsuitnation Heads to Polls…

Across the country, women who support Clinton – and women’s rights in general – headed to the polls in pantsuits, the attire of choice for the candidate. Here are a few from Oklahoma:

…And So Do Women for Trump

Lankford Expected to Coast

U.S. Sen. James Lankford
U.S. Sen. James Lankford

Bill Shapard, of SoonerPoll, finds it interesting that no one, including his firm, has done a poll on the U.S. Senate race in Oklahoma, in which incumbent James Lankford faces three opponents, including Democrat Mike Workman. The pollsters’ take is that “it’s not even plausible that it’s close or contentious.” It also reflects how Oklahoma, a deeply red state though less so in the largest urban areas, is different than much of the rest of the nation, Shapard said.

According to campaign finance reports, Lankford had raised about $2.5 million this election cycle through Oct. 19 and had $904,085 cash in hand. During the previous two-year election cycle, he raised $4.2 million.

Still Undecided?

Standing in line at the polls and flipping a coin? Here’s some 11th hour help…

Last Words for Clinton

Casey DeLaney, of Oklahoma City, voting for Clinton:
“I didn’t know who I was voting for until this morning. But I voted for Hillary Clinton and I’m a Republican. For me it was about her policies and experience. And the unknowns with Trump are too scary.”

Stacie Shelton, Tulsa, for Clinton:
“I feel like Trump is a racist and misogynist who is using fear to get people to vote.”

Last Words for Trump

Michael Ward, of Oklahoma City, voting for Trump:
“It comes to jobs and the economy. I think he’ll do a lot better job with that than Hillary. And I couldn’t vote for Hillary. I grew up in Arkansas and I know too much about the corruption.”

Lance and Kristi Hunger, of Coweta, for Trump:
Lance: “I voted for Trump because Hillary Clinton is a crook … Just to be clear, I don’t like either of them.”
Kristi: “We said we were going to have to make the worst decision of our lives today.”

Election 2016: A Mental Health Crisis?

Families are fighting in person and on Facebook. People are losing sleep. Clients of mental-health professionals are making emergency appointments to seek advice on dealing with stress over the presidential election.

Election 2016 is taking a toll on many Oklahomans’ emotional states. In this audio report, Epic Text Books’s Brad Gibson talks with two psychologists about their thoughts.

The Odds of Passage for the Seven State Questions

David Blatt
David Blatt

David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, has taken a statistical look at state questions dating back to 1989. What did he find that dispels some widespread beliefs about Oklahoma voters? Blatt also offers thoughts on the chances of passage for some of the key measures on Tuesday’s ballot.

Early Voting – It’s a Record

Early voting is a wrap. Oklahoma State Election Board reporting it will set a new record.

Old “early” voting record (114.3K in 2008) has been SMASHED by more than 30K. We are at 146.2K & counting. Updated #’s coming Monday. https://t.co/krH2yCgm87

Posted by Oklahoma State Election Board on Saturday, November 5, 2016

And the Oklahoma Democratic Party is not very happy about it:


Q&A on SQ 777, the “Right to Farm” Questions

SQ 777 would place in Oklahoma’s constitution a “right to farm,” creating a new limit on elected officials’ ability to pass laws that might infringe on crop and animal agriculture. Read more…

With plenty of early-voting time left to go, 8.4 percent of Oklahoma’s ballots have already been cast.

A battleground state Oklahoma is not. Most voters are leaning toward Donald Trump in the presidential race, according to polls.

But the ballot is still full of suspense. There are seven state questions on key issues. Observers wonder if Trump’s margin over Hillary Clinton will narrow. How will women vote? Will more Hispanics turn out? Will Democrats and “teachers’ caucus” candidates pick up seats in the Legislature?

Many voters feel a lot is at stake. The long lines of early voters at the polls appear to bear that out.

A line of early voters extended halfway around the Cleveland County Election Board building Thursday morning (above). The line was even longer Friday morning.
A line of early voters extended halfway around the Cleveland County Election Board building Thursday morning (above). The line was even longer Friday morning.

Twitter on Register

Bail Bond Firms Fight Criminal Justice Questions

Representatives of bail bond companies, which fear they will lose business if State Questions 780 and 781 pass, have formed the first official political group that’s come out against the measures.

Ethics Commission paperwork shows two women from Oklahoma City bail bond companies are heading the new political action committee, Voteno780.com.

SQ 780 is intended to reduce incarceration by lowering the penalties for drug possession and raising the dollar threshold for property crimes to be considered a felony. SQ 781 would send any money saved by SQ 780 to counties for rehabilitation programs.

Laurie Poole, treasurer of Voteno780 and owner of Assets Bail Bonds, said the group has raised around $7,000 so far and bought some ads. The group’s chair is April Carter, a Freedom Bail Bonds employee.

Poole said the group opposes the questions because, among other reasons, they are redundant and would take away prosecutorial discretion. But she acknowledged passage would hurt bail bond companies.

“There’s no way to flower it up – it’s going to change the face of our industry,” Poole said.

At the same time, passage would financially benefit social-services nonprofits that support the state questions, she said.

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