Category Archives: The Senator’s Wife

The Oklahoma Governor’s Race

My View from the Cheap Seats

I have had my eye on the Oklahoma governor’s race for quite some time and in my opinion, there is a very real likelihood that seat could change hands. Let me explain.

I first met our Governor, Kevin Stitt four years ago when he took out two well known political candidates in the Republican primary. I wrote about my first encounter with Kevin and his wife Sarah, HERE and I stand by that account. He was going to be the breath of fresh air that Oklahoma desperately needed. Successful businessman, no political experience but quick thinking and a visionary. His goal to turn Oklahoma into a top ten state was admirable and he could articulate what needed to change in order to move that ball down the court. 

But politics and state government are a far cry from the boardroom and Stitt made some initial political missteps that have now come home to haunt him. I have narrowed it down to these four, fatal mistakes: 

1. He appointed his friends with little or no political experience to cabinet level positions. 

While it is smart to appoint qualified people you trust to high level / key spots in government, if they lack a fundamental understanding of how the bureaucracy works, they are bound to make mistakes. And they did.  Here are a few: 

Tourism Controversy

Covid Relief Controversy

More Covid Controversy

Cabinet Controversy

CLO Controversy

2.  He picked a fight with the Tribal Nations who call Oklahoma home .

When Stitt decided to write an op-ed in his home town paper (July 8, 2019) shredding the tribes and the gaming compacts, he made some powerful enemies. Oklahomans take pride in our native heritage and history. It is a part of who we are as a state. There are countless community partnerships where the tribal nations are involved and committed to making our state better place to live. We live together and work together. There has always been a symbiotic relationship between the state and our tribal nations, until Kevin Stitt severely damaged that tie. The smart move would have been to invite the Tribes over to the Capitol for a critical conversation about re-negotiating the gaming compacts that were set to renew…just saying. 

3. Primary Endorsements

Why in the world would a sitting Governor get involved up and down the ballot of a Republican Primary. Stitt campaigned and/or endorsed at least four candidates in the Republican Primary. Not only is this bad form, but you anger those Republicans who might be supporting “the other guy.” I believe they used to call it the Reagan rule? and Stitt broke it.

4. Campaign Malpractice

It is a fact that there were multiple outside entities who have spent around $20+ million dollars running negative ads against Kevin Stitt. That is a LOT of dark money.  Regardless, a candidate can not allow their opponent to define them – even if they happen to be 18 points ahead in the polls like Stitt was last Summer. Polls are simply a snapshot in time, and the initial silence from the Stitt campaign provided his opponent an opportunity to define him and close the gap. I don’t know who is running the Stitt campaign but they called in the calvary. Can’t remember a time when the Republican Governor’s Association had to spend money in Oklahoma!

Election Day in my state will be interesting to watch. I wonder if the the red wave happening across the country will be big enough to pull Kevin Stitt across the finish line… the Senator and I have a bet on this. Will let you know who wins! 

Oklahoma Politics

A Bellwether Race to Follow?

The race between incumbent Carrie Hicks (D) and challenger Mariam Daley (R) for State Senate District 40 is one to watch. This seat was held by Republicans for decades until Ervin Yen (R) was defeated in the 2018 Republican primary by challenger Joe Howell. I believe there were several reasons that seat flipped:

1.The Republican challenger, while defeating an unpopular incumbent in the primary, did not campaign (or was not capable of campaigning). Republicans wanted change, but in doing so, they did not put their best foot forward for the general election cycle. The quality of candidate matters.

2. It was a midterm election year – meaning whichever party is in the White House (in this case Trump and the Republicans), the midterms typically swing toward the opposite party. The American people’s own version of checks and balances.

3. The 2018 election cycle in Oklahoma was ripe for candidates with educational backgrounds. Education was THE hot issue.

Enter Carrie Hicks. A young mom of three, classroom teacher, (and former contestant on the Bachelor), Carrie pounded the pavement and talked directly to voters about education. Her message was relatable and relevant. It was the perfect storm. In fact, that election cycle saw more teachers elected to serve in public office than ever before.

This year, a Democrat (Joe Biden) is in the White House, the Democrats control the Congress and a red wave is brewing. If this is really a thing and happening as the polls indicate, SD40 could flip back to a Republican held seat. While the state of education is always an issue in Oklahoma (and that is a story all to itself), topics like inflation, the economy and crime seem to be top of mind to most voters. I would even predict CRT, gender and abortion enter into the conversation before election day. This is Oklahoma after all.

Hicks has the built in advantage of incumbency in terms of fundraising and name ID, but during her four years of public service she has been fairly quiet in the district. Her challenger, Mariam Daly knows the red wave is coming and if a Republican is ever going to reclaim that senate seat, this is the year. (Although, the heated gubernatorial race which has caught the attention of national media might get in the way.)

Joe Biden and his inflationary policies are still at the top of mind for most voters and Republicans are enthusiastic to push back. Will that transcend this far down the ballot? Your guess is as good as mine, but SD 40 will be a solid seat to watch on election night if that is the case.

Political Prom

Last Saturday evening was the Speaker’s Ball in Oklahoma, an event that signals the Legislative Session is drawing near. I penned a few reviews of past Speaker’s Balls we attended while Cliff was in the Legislature. You can read about those HERE, HERE and HERE. The theme, venue and beneficiary of the proceeds changes with every Speaker of the House, which keeps things interesting.

We did not go this year because I was in charge of another event benefiting the Oklahoma Contemporary Museum of Art. So, still had a chance to play dress up and momentarily feel like a princess just at a different venue!  It was fun and my Senator in a tux did not disappoint.

If you read this and attended the 2020 Speaker’s Ball, please send me your pics!! Dying to know what I missed!

The official start to the legislative session in Oklahoma begins next week and the Governor appears to be on a goodwill tour speaking about his agenda and providing people with a glimpse of his goals for our state. Honestly, he needs all the goodwill he can get considering he is still in a dispute with the Tribes…but, I’m not gonna go there. And, it’s also rumored that his Senior Advisor, (Donelle Harder), the individual who is writing the State of the State is resigning. Oy!

My Senator will have an opportunity to hear the Gov. speak at Rotary today.  Did you know, that Rotary Club 29, located in Oklahoma City, is the largest Rotary Club in the WORLD!?  Who would ever guess that to be the case considering the size of our City…unless you know the people who live here and their dedication to serving others. Can’t wait to hear about today’s meeting and kinda of bummed I didn’t get the invite to go as his guest haha.