I was a little disappointed reading an article in the Oklahoma Gazette last week by fellow Okie, Keith Gaddie, who is a political science professor at OU and used to publish a political blog at SoonerPolitics.com. His point was the importance of electing the most influential candidate for representative of Oklahoma’s 5th District.
Gaddie says he has been thinking for some time
about the relative power of the Oklahoma delegation, and what the lessons of power hold for a new legislator from District 5.
Our senators rank favorably but the House delegation is a weak sister.
Despite having good committee assignments, they engage in no legislative activity, don’t bring home the bacon and exercise little influence in the chamber.
Of our four returning representatives, three rank in the bottom third of the chamber in terms of power. [Rep. Frank Lucas is the exception.]
Which strikes me as refuting his own argument, and a slap in the face to perhaps Oklahoma’s most politically astute congressmen, Rep. Tom Cole.
Cole is a major figure in contemporary Oklahoma politics….Cole served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1988 to 1991 as a Republican, resigning mid-term to accept a job in Washington. From 1995 to 1999, he was the Oklahoma Secretary of State under Frank Keating… He has also served as Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party…
Cole has been heavily involved in national politics as well, having served both as Executive Director of the National Republican Congressional Committee and as Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee. He also spent two years working as a paid consultant for the United States Chamber of Commerce. But Cole’s primary involvement in politics has been as a political consultant. His firm (Cole, Hargrave, Snodgrass and Associates) played a large part in the reconstruction of Oklahoma’s political landscape, and backed a number of candidates that took office during the Republican Revolution of 1994. Among their clients have been Frank Keating, J.C. Watts, Tom Coburn, Frank Lucas, Mary Fallin, Wes Watkins, Steve Largent, Mississippi congressman Chip Pickering, and Hawaii governor Linda Lingle
If Rep. Cole is a “weak sister”, I sure as hell don’t know what kind of congressional candidate Gaddie is expecting to find.
One must be able to get beyond navigating the social dynamic of Washington and be able to speak the code with knowledge…
But do we really want to add another one of these types to Congress? Manipulators that try to out manipulate other manipulators? Politicians that are steeped in Washington code and double-talk? Give me a plain talker and political social gadfly who I can trust, any day. Even if it happens to be someone I mostly disagree with. Someone like “favorably” rated first term senator Tom Coburn; the closest successful politician to an Independent Oklahoma has. Another congressman like that from Oklahoma would be nice. (Though not necessarily exactly like that.)