Tahlequah Daily Press


January 24, 2014

Race to replace Sen. Tom Coburn will be interesting to watch

TAHLEQUAH — Tom Coburn’s announcement that he would be retiring from the U.S. Senate before the end of his term set off a flurry of speculation about his eventual replacement. A few names are already being bandied about, but so far, the field isn’t that impressive.

We can only hope for a good field from which to choose in both primaries – and that partisan politics won’t play as much a role in the ultimate selection as a commitment to what’s best for Oklahoma. Interestingly, that’s a sentiment shared by the Cherokee County residents with whom we’ve discussed the issue – including Dana Rogers and Shannon Grimes, the respective chairs of the local Democratic and Republican parties.

Both Grimes and Rogers wonder about the “ripple effect” if someone already holding an office should decide to try moving up the ladder, but neither is displaying the “my-party-or-nothing” attitude we’ve seen causing gridlock in the current Congress. Fair and accurate representation – and a willingness to go the distance for the home state – are prime concerns. Of course, progressives and conservatives may disagree on what’s “best,” but in general, growing the Oklahoma economy will always be a top concern for both groups. Okies want and need jobs, and we’d like to have jobs that pay a living wage.

The shoes typically associated with that Senate seat are some big ones to fill, as State Rep. Mike Brown pointed out. He wasn’t just talking about Coburn, but rather the distinguished list of Oklahomans from both parties who have held U.S. Senate seats – only 18 total, to date. He wants Coburn’s replacement to be a similarly dynamic character who can get things done for Oklahoma.

Coburn’s track record may be debated along partisan lines, but although he’s generally seen as conservative, he has often crossed into progressive turf. Known as a “maverick” by the media well before the rather fatuous Sarah Palin co-opted the term, Coburn has always been aggressive in his pursuit of government waste. But he didn’t just aim at the traditional Republican entitlement targets like welfare, Medicare and others seen as “robbing the rich to give to the poor.” Indeed, Coburn recognized “corporate welfare” when he saw it, and for the most part, was every bit as critical of those handouts.

In the Daily Press’ website poll, many folks said would like to see someone more “liberal” than Coburn take the seat. But as Grimes pointed out, the labels of “liberal” and “conservative” aren’t nuanced enough to describe today’s mixture of philosophies. Younger voters, ages 18 to 35, tend to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative – a more libertarian view. Those were likely key respondents to the Press’ website poll, since the younger set seems to be more internet-savvy than their older peers. In the poll, 47 percent wanted someone more liberal than Coburn; 37 percent someone about like him; and only 13 percent wanted someone more conservative.

It will be interesting to watch this race develop. In light of the current Congress, we can be forgiven for being skeptical, but we also must – as we Okies have always done – persevere, and hold out hope.

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  • NSU needs to be more candid when its plans go awry

    Many area residents were disappointed to learn this week that the NSU Fitness Center, and its all-important indoor lap pool, won’t open next month, as originally announced.
    This latest delay is no surprise.

    July 28, 2014

  • Higher premiums a just reward for drunken drivers

    Over the past several years, Oklahoma has slipped in many of the polls that count. This week, we learned Tulsa is No. 4 on a list of cities with high rates of fatal DUI accidents. Is anyone really surprised?

    July 25, 2014

  • Maybe it’s time to think about having another BalloonFest

    The 18th annual BalloonFest was the last one held, in 2010. In summer 2011, when the Daily Press staff hadn’t heard anything about the much-anticipated event, we started asking questions.

    July 23, 2014

  • If you see a drunken driver, take the time to call in a report

    If you see something, say something. You’ve heard the warning, and seen it imprinted on placards at airports. In the wake of 9/11, it became a national mantra, mainly aimed at spotting potential terrorist activities. But it’s good advice anytime, and for any reason, even at the local level.

    July 14, 2014

  • City officials should stop squabbling and try to work together

    It’s bad enough that the Chamber of Commerce scandal has given Tahlequah a black eye. But if the bickering among city officials doesn’t stop, the community will have a complete set of shiners for its public face.

    July 11, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    Despite pressure from some quarters, neither the Press nor anyone else who values full disclosure will be clamming up until all the facts are known, and those who are responsible meet with justice.

    July 10, 2014

  • Only full disclosure will restore trust in the chamber

    A few board members for the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce are saying they’ve heard nothing but positive things lately – about the chamber itself, and presumably, about themselves.

    July 9, 2014

  • Employer-sponsored insurance may now be a ‘hostage’ situation

    When the fallout settles from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, many Americans might decide they’re better off with health insurance that doesn’t come from their boss.

    July 7, 2014

  • With confidence in Congress at 7 percent, time for a new slate

    Note to Congress: We don’t like you. Not at all.
    A Gallup poll released Monday, June 30 confirmed what most of us already know: the American public is disgusted with the House and Senate. The survey recorded the lowest level of confidence since Gallup began asking the question in 1991: a whopping 7 percent. That’s not a typographical error; it’s a single digit.

    July 2, 2014

  • New chamber head needs to be free from scandal’s taint

    Every time another layer is peeled off the unfolding saga of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce embezzlement case, those going through the records hope they might see a light at the end of the tunnel. So far, that hasn’t happened.

    June 30, 2014


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