Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Meet us at the Labor & Friends Event Friday, June 2

Labor & Friends events are fun gatherings of labor union members, community and
faith-based supporters of organized labor as well as candidates seeking public office and incumbent elected officials.

‘Labor & Friends” is a political fundraiser for the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation, AFL-CIO (CLF). This year's event is Friday evening, June 2nd, at The Centre, 4325 N.W. 50th Oklahoma City. Frosty Troy, Editor, of the Observer, will deliver the keynote address. Frost Troy is one of my favorite Oklahoma speakers. I can still reminder the first time I heard him speak, he was so funny he took my breath away. When you come to the event this Friday you are really in for a treat.

The Keith Leftwich Volunteer of the Year Award will be presented at the event. This award is given to the volunteer who has made a difference in the labor movement. Tim O’Connor, member, USWA 998L/Dayton Tire, is President of the Central Oklahoma Labor Federation. The CLF consists of 59+ affiliated local unions across eight central Oklahoma counties. Its main function during political election season is grass-roots member-to-member volunteer mobilizations for labor endorsed candidates with races within the council’s jurisdiction.

I look forward to seeing you that the event this weekend.
I personally think Claire McCaskill, candidate for U.S. Senator in Missouri, has the right message; she was recently interviewed in the New Yorker Magazine:

"Being a Democrat is about balance. It's about being moderate and truthful and strong. Harry Truman, leaders like that, they were strong enough to take on foreign enemies when they needed to, but they were also strong enough to know when not to fight, when to use other weapons besides military force. That's the message the Democratic Party should be sending. We should let the American people know we want to work with allies, work with the U.N., and that we don't like war, but that we'll defend this country's interests with everything we've got."
As our Carl Albert dinner nears, I find myself reflecting on the role he played in my life. As a McAlester native, he was an inspiration to me from the time I was in grade school. In fact it was Mr. Albert that encouraged me to run for public office. Later he would be the first contributor to my Congressional campaign. Those of us who knew him have a duty to tell those who were not as fortunate the true scope of his brilliant intellect, his compassion for the less fortunate, and the depth of his love for our great state and our country. If you see me get a little misty-eyed at the dinner, that is the reason why...all the best, Ben

Enjoyed lunch yesterday with some great Democrats in Seminole. County chairman Gordon Melson made the introductions after County vicechair Liz Estes organized the monthly event. County Sheriff Joe Craig and his deputies were there for part of the meeting. While in town I stopped by the "Seminole Producer" for a quick chat with publisher Stu Phillips where I was reminded that our grandfathers knew each other through their long time involvement in the Oklahoma Historical Society. Stu and I also share a passion for truth in journalism and he remembered that I once worked as a newspaper editor for the Hobart Democrat-Chief. Liz and I then made a short stop at the Seminole County Courthouse in Wewoka where we visited with folks in the County Commissioners' office and stopped by to see County Treasurer Jim Hardin, County Assessor Sharon Butler and County Election Board Secretary Mary Jo Rains.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

In a Theater Near You…

On June 23rd, do your part to raise awareness of global warming. The film An Inconvenient Truth, featuring Al Gore, will open in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and you can pledge to see the movie opening weekend.

Pledge to SEE THE TRUTH today!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Taking The Long Way

This morning on the way to work, I treated myself to a coffee and a new CD. The Dixie Chicks just released their new album, Taking The Long Way, on Tuesday, and they included a song response to the controversy they created three years ago.

In the song “Not Ready To Make Nice”, the girls take on the criticisms they’ve received for expressing their political views. They confront the hypocrisy of their adversaries – who disagreed with their opinion so much they sent in death threats against lead singer Natalie Maines.

The funny thing is, I’m willing to bet that most of the people who were so angry at the band three years ago are now part of the 60+ percent of the people across the country who disapprove of how George W. Bush is doing his job.

The Dixie Chicks aren’t ready to make nice. They don’t want to back down. They’re ready to take the long way.

As Democrats in a red state, we know what taking the long way means. It means staying the fight, no matter how long it takes, because it is the right thing to do.

We know that it’s often hard to stay the ethical path, but someone has to do it! Someone has to stand up for the freedom of speech, someone has to fight the culture of corruption in the White House, and someone has to combat the scandals that are rocking our own state house.

Republican politicians have failed us. As Democrats, we have to stand up against corruption, and we’re not ready to make nice.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Young Voters

I read an article the other day about young voters. It was interesting how many candidates are looking into young voters as a major group to win over.

It has not always been like this. I remember when I first turned 18 I registered right away. Then there was nothing afterward. No candidates spoke in my area and if they did I never heard about the event.

It is 5 years later and now the youth vote is important. This article said "young people will make up 25% of the voting population in 2016" so based on these numbers whichever party comes out ahead this November will be the party in control in ten years.

I do not know if anyone else has ever heard this, but coming from a rural town my parents were told by numerous people trying to help them out when I went to school that "college professors are liberals so if your daughter goes to college she is going to come back a liberal too". Well, my parents are both Democrats and always have been so they did not see this as such a problem. It makes me think though, college enrollment is up everywhere. If all of us are going off to college to become liberals and we are going to be a huge part of the voting population maybe this all means Democrats are going to come out on top this year and for the next ten!

Here is the whole article:
Poll: 73 Percent of Young People Will Vote in 2006 Theodora A. Blanchfield , May 22, 2006
If the 2004 and 2005 elections are any indicator, young voters will continue to turn out at the polls in record numbers in upcoming elections.

Turnout in 2004 among the 18-to-24 year old bloc increased 11 percent over 2000 turnout, while general turnout increased only by four percent. In key governor races in Virginia and New Jersey in 2005, youth turnout continued to grow while general turnout dropped. A new poll released by Young Voter Strategies, a project of the George Washington Graduate School of Political Management, shows that 73 percent of young people who are eligible to vote are likely to cast ballots this November.

“If you ask them, they will vote,” said Heather Smith, director for Young Voter Strategies. “It’s figuring out how to ask them.”

Young Voter Strategies and GW-Battleground pollsters Celinda Lake of Lake Research Partners and Ed Goeas of The Tarrance Group conducted a poll of 500 18-30 year olds. The poll, which was conducted April 27 – May 1, 2006, surveyed youths on their political concerns, likeliness to vote and the best ways to reach out to them.

“This generation will be 25 percent of the population by 2016 and it is likely that the party that wins in 2006 will be the party in power in 10 years,” Smith said.

Young voters are particularly important because voting patterns even at a young age impact how someone votes for the rest of their lives. Lake said that once a voter had supported the same party three times, it was probable that they would continue to vote that way for the rest of their lives.

“Young people voted largely Democratic in 2004. It would be a shame to lose those votes in 2006 and 2008,” Lake, who is a Democratic pollster, said.

The survey also found that 63 percent of respondents thought that the country was on the wrong track. The top three issues that concerned young voters were gas prices, education and jobs and the economy. Forty-nine percent of those polled believed that Democrats would do a better job of addressing their top issue, while 28 percent believed Republicans would do a better job. In a generic ballot question, 45 percent said they would vote Democrat while only 26 percent said they would vote Republican.

Though these numbers seem disappointing to Republicans, there may be hope, according to Republican pollster Goeas.

While overall, young people believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction, 60 percent of those who identified themselves as Republicans believe the country is headed in the right direction.

“Young Republicans are loyal. If they’re Republican, they are intensely Republican,” he said. “They show an intensity other groups don’t.”

Young Republicans also intensely favor the President, giving him an approval rating of 76 percent and the Republican Party a favorable rating of 85 percent.

Young Voter Strategies plans to use the results for a national nonpartisan project to register 350,000 18-29 year old voters. The project will use a myriad of strategies, including e-mail and mobile phone, presentations by religious leaders and college professors and outreach by celebrities and musicians at concerts.

Young Voter Strategies will work with a number of organizations, including The American Association of State College and Universities, The Center for Civic Participation and The State Public Interest Research Groups to register voters. Each project will be followed and analyzed by an academic researcher. Following the 2006 elections, Young Voter Strategies and the researchers will produce a “Young Voter Toolkit” with strategies to help involve young voters in the future.

Voters are rejecting the failed Republican leadership in Washington.

Voters are weary of the culture of corruption, cronyism and incompetence in Washington.

Voters are especially sick and tired of Republican campaign tactics yet they continue to bombard voters with despicable flyers with outrageous lies about Democrats --- at the national and state levels.

Voters are ready for a change in Washington.

Voters want the truth.

Voters trust Democrats to lead.

Voters trust Democrats on the issues.

You can help stop the dirty tricks, you can help stop the GOP in their tracks.
Speak the truth and support candidates who speak the truth.
Give generously to candidates and organizations that support the truth.
Elect Democrats.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Carl Albert at the Will Rogers

Plans are coming together for the Carl Albert Dinner. It's the ODP's annual awards dinner and fundraiser. This year we are excited to be hosting this event at the historic Will Rogers Theatre on Western Avenue in OKC. This will be the first time we've used this venue. I expect you'll really enjoy the intimate environment for 300 people as we celebrate and honor the long service of State Superintendent Sandy Garrett and former ODP Executive Director Pat Hall. Both have been around guiding policy and strategy for Democrats for many years; both have made significant contributions to the Democratic Party.

In addition we will also honor our term-limited State Senators and State Representatives. Special guests Congressman Dan Boren and Governor Brad Henry are expected to attend, as are Attorney General Drew Edmondson, State Auditor Jeff McMahan, State Treasurer Scott Meacham, and State Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland.

With the event scheduled just days after filing we are encouraging all of our candidates to attend so they can meet YOU! Your attendance will make it a perfect evening --- for ticket details please call the ODP at 405.427.3366.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Great minds discuss ideas,
average minds discuss events,
small minds discuss people."
-----Hyman Rickover

Sunday, May 21, 2006

America Prefers Democrats

I read a lot of polls. They actually can tell us a lot about what people are thinking and what they want from their leaders. For instance, 85% of Oklahomans favor an increase in the minimum wage (I’m guessing the other 15% are the pretty much the same folks who brought us “right to work”). I already believed that, but the poll numbers reinforced it.

Here are some other poll numbers that tell us alot. According to the latest (May 16, 2006) Washington Post-ABC News poll: Which political party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job handling (ITEM)?

Democrats Republicans

a. The situation in Iraq 50 36
b. Protecting Americans'
privacy rights as the
government investigates
terrorism 52 37
c. Gasoline prices 54 23
d. The economy 52 34
e. Immigration issues 48 34
f. The U.S. campaign
against terrorism 46 41
g. Health care 61 28
h. Education 56 33
i. Taxes 52 38
j. The federal budget 54 34

The message is clear: The American people trust Democrats to do the better job on each of the top issues affecting the country today. Every single one.

Also in that poll - the American people want Congress to be controlled by the Democratic Party by a margin of 56-33%.

And, here’s one more: Overall, which party, the (Democrats) or the (Republicans), do you trust to do a better job in coping with the main problems the nation faces over the next few years? The answer: Democrats 50% Republicans 36%.

It seems clear to me (1) Democrats are right on the issues, and (2) the American people trust (and want) us to lead. Now, let’s get to work, take that message to the people of Oklahoma and ELECT DEMOCRATS!
Presidente Arbusto

During the 2004 Presidential campaign Republicans had great fun at the expense of John Kerry and the Democratic Party, derisively mocking Kerry as a “flip-flopper” because he had voted in favor of one version of a bill before voting against the final version (to which he had objections).

So, what are we to say now about those people and their candidate, George W. Bush? You see, on May 20, 2006 President Bush told a gathering in the White House Rose Garden, “ I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English, and I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.”

Now, I’m not writing to discuss that point, or even whether the President of the United States should be required to speak English (this one, as we know, has some real problems there). No, I’m writing this because in his book, “American Dynasty”, Kevin Phillips writes that during the 2000 campaign candidate Bush would “drop in at Hispanic festivals and parties, sometimes joining in singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Spanish, sometimes partying with a “Viva Bush” mariachi band flown in from Texas.”

Puzzled, I went to the President’s White House website seeking clarification. There, I found little enlightenment on the issue, but I did learn that I could access the White House website in English…and in Spanish.

And then I remembered that the guy who says “people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English” is the same guy who sprinkles Spanish into his speeches (when it might help him), proposed budget cuts for English-language broadcasts on Voice of America, and who named his Texas oil exploration company Arbusto (Bush…in Spanish).

So, next time you get lectured by some Republican about “flip-flopping” it seems fair enough you should ask them to explain the odd behavior of Presidente Arbusto. Does anyone know how to say “flip-flopper” in Spanish?
Okfuskee and Hughes County Democrats

A big thanks to all the Democrats from Hughes and Okfuskee Counties who showed up last night at the Wes Watkins Technology Center in Wetumka for a great evening of "truth telling" by local and state candidates. Pat Alford and her crew did a great job organizing the BBQ fundraiser for the Hughes County Democratic Party. A special thanks to Beverly Rogers for cheering on the candidates and speakers --- we need more of that energy and enthusiasm!

Of note, former Speaker of the House Larry Adair, who now serves at the CD 2 chairman for the ODP, was emcee for the evening's events which included remarks from Senator Frank Shurden, Democratic candidate for State Labor Commissioner, Rep. Dale Turner who is seeking his sixth term, and Senator Susan Paddack. Senate candidate Roger Ballenger asked for support in his efforts to fill the upcoming vacancy in SD 8 where Shurden is term limited. At least four candidates for County Commissioner spoke to the crowd of about 150 yellow dog Democrats and one guide dog named Hoss. The energetic Hughes County Assessor Kathi Mask who has served for 16 years asked for another four. Former Senator Billye Floyd from Ada spoke on behalf of Lt. Governor candidate Jari Askins and Kathi Mask spoke for State Auditor Jeff McMahan, reminding folks that Jeff grew up in nearby Holdenville.

I had the pleasure of closing the evening's festivities by reminding the audience that 2006 should be the end of the red tide for state Republicans who have hitched their wagon to the lying, buying, spying Republican culture of corruption, cronyism and incompetence that is guiding the extremist Republican leadership in DC and OKC.

On a more positive note I reminded them that a basic difference between our party and theirs is that we put "people first" while they pander to the "privileged few." Everyone in the room could've given personal testimony of that and will in the coming months as they take our vision and our values to their friends, families, and neighbors. And, oh, yes, we are a party of values, in fact, our values are pretty much summed up in these two words: Golden Rule. If you need explanation of that, you are probably a Republican, because Democrats know what that means and they live it. You might say we are "faith in action"....what's the song, a little less talk and a lot more action?

Speaking of action, that reminds me of auction, and they had a good one last night. The "prize" was a silent auction piece of artwork featuring a photograph of RFK and these words: "as long as America must choose, that long will there be a need and a place for the Democratic Party. We Democrats can run on our record but we cannot rest on it. We will win if we continue to take the initiative and if we carry the message of hope and action throughout the country. Alexander Smith once said, 'A man doesn't plant a tree for himself. He plants it for posterity.' Let us continue to plant, and our children shall reap the harvest. That is our destiny as Democrats."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Tomorrow the ODP Veterans and Military Families Committee will participate in the annual Shriners and Armed Forces Day Parade in Del City. My thanks go to our committee chairman Ron Wasson and HD 45 candidate Troy Green for organizing our entry.

We have invited other Oklahoma Democrats to join with us in this salute to our troops and their families.

As chairman I established this ad hoc committee last year to begin addressing some of the issues we face as a party and as Oklahomans related to Bush's war in Iraq and the treatment of our veterans and their families. (This is a personal issue for me, my son was re-deployed to Iraq on the day I was elected chairman. I am happy to report that he returned home safely last weekend, in time for Mother's Day! What a joyous day for our family. Sadly, two other Oklahoma families did not have the same feelings as they buried their sons this week. My sincere sympathies to them and my deepest respect for their sons' service.)

The committee has members from every military branch who represent service in WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We meet monthly and I'm certain you will be hearing more from this fine group of Democrats in the near future. Already our committee chairman Ron Wasson has been appointed to serve on the DNC's Veterans and Military Families Council.

While this is personal for me and for our members, this is also very important to our state. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affiars reports that Oklahoma has at least 365,456 military veterans and when you add in their wives, sons and daughters the state has approximately 800,000 military service personnel and dependents.

Oklahoma is also home of some of the finest military installations in the United States, including Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, Vance Air Force Base near Enid, Altus Air Force Base at Altus, the U.S. Army Field Artillery Center at Lawton's Fort Sill, the 95th Training Division at Midwest City, and the U.S. Army Amunition Depot near McAlester.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Thirty-three percent. Sixty-five percent.

That's right. Only 33% of Americans approve of the way Bush is handling his job as president. That means that 65% disapprove according to this week's Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

The same poll indicates that the top five issues are the Economy, Iraq, Immigration, Gas prices, and the War on terrorism.

And a full 69% of the respondents feel things in the country are on the wrong track.

Only 7% is enthusiastic about the Bush administration's policies.

And overall, more people trust the Democrats to do a better job in coping with the main problems our nation faces. People trust the Democrats more in Iraq, in protecting privacy, in addressing gasoline prices, in the economy, on immigration issues, on health care, on education, on the federal budget and on TAXES!!!!!

Read it for yourself at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


"Sine die" is the Latin term for shutting down the legislative session. Talk today of next week's scheduled "sine die" for this legislative session was peppered with rumors of a possible special session to deal with the budget showdown and perhaps a shutdown of another kind. Every year the same rumors abound but this year there's a difference -- it's an election year and both sides are digging in their heels. Seems there's a difference of opinion on how to spend the budget surplus.

This Democrat believes we should fully and responsibly invest in the future before considering even targeted tax cuts. Reminds me of the "West Wing"s fifth season "Shutdown" episode when President Bartlett calls the bully Republican Speaker's bluff ( resulting in a temporary shutdown of government forcing the Republicans into a strategic error. Problem is, this is not tv, this is real life and real people making decisions about real money and real priorities.

I'm sticking with the Senate Democrats and Mike Morgan on this one. In the rush to make a deal we Democrats should not forget about the people of Oklahoma. Everyone understands that there is always another door to open, always another deal to be made. You don't have to accept door number one. Let's take a look behind door number two and three. In fact let's keep opening doors until we get it right for the people of Oklahoma.

So, let's make a deal, but not this deal. What's next.