Tuesday, June 20, 2006


I wrote about Rae and Dennis Weese when they filed for office on their anniversary this month. Today Randy Krehbiel wrote this story for the Tulsa World that ran on page 1:

The self-described Yellow Dog Democrats file for office after 30 years of marriage.

Thirty wedding anniversaries later, coming up with something different for No. 31 can be a stretch.

Even so, as anniversary dates go, filing for public office together must be darn near unique.

Dennis and Rae Weese of Broken Arrow celebrated 31 years of wedded bliss on June 7 with dinner and a movie, and by filing for the Legislature.

Committed Democrats marooned amid some of Oklahoma's most Republican neighborhoods, the Weeses know the odds are against them. But, they say, they just couldn't stand to see GOP walkovers in their House and Senate legislative districts.

"We just don't care for uncontested elections," said Rae Weese.

So Dennis, a 59-year-old auto worker, filed for the Senate District 36 seat being vacated by Scott Pruitt, and Rae, 52, became the only opposition to Republican incumbent John Trebilcock in House District 98.

"We had been talking about how we weren't happy with our legislators and that we hoped some Democrat with recognition would step up to the plate," said Dennis Weese. "Well, they didn't. And it ate on us so much we just decided to file."

Two Republicans, Joe Lester and Bill Brown, have filed in District 36. Weese said both have impressive resumes, but he thinks his and his wife's background should be more appealing to the average voter.

"Those two gentlemen have served on boards controlling some important organizations. One of them, Joe Lester, has been on the board of the Red Cross. Rae and I, on the other hand, are on a Red Cross disaster team. We were at Camp Gruber when the first busload of people displaced by Hurricane Katrina arrived. I personally was in charge of (taking care of) 200 people who were dirty and hungry and tired."

Rae was in charge of women with special needs at the camp.

Because neither Weese has a primary opponent, the Weeses have plenty of time to work their neighborhoods. Most of that work is going to have to be sweat equity because they don't have a campaign fund. Dennis said he plans to follow in the footsteps -- or at least the tread marks -- of Virgil Cooper, the retired school administrator who upset incumbent Second District Congressman Mike Synar in the 1994 Democratic primary.

"He had a pickup that he drove around," said Weese. "Well, I have a yellow pickup with 'Yellow Dog' license plate on it."

Indeed, the Weeses are the proverbial Yellow Dog Democrats, loyal to the last. Although neither has run for public office before, both were members of Oklahoma's delegation to the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Their son Luke is a party campaign operative working for U.S. Fifth District candidate David Hunter.

Rae is president of Heart of the Party -- the Tulsa County chapter of the Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women -- and although they haven't raised any campaign money for themselves, they have helped raise plenty for other Democratic candidates. But, they say they hope money isn't everything in politics.

"I really feel like the key will be talking to people, walking the neighborhoods and knocking on doors," Rae said.

"Broken Arrow is somewhat conservative, but we've lived here a long time. We're Broken Arrow people."

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