Oklahoma History, Part II

Just a few observations from the Gallery on the swearing in ceremony the other day. Reflected in the photo below are the members at their desks. I am sure they are listening intently. The Pro Tem had to quiet them only once during the session.

Did you know that the during the ceremony, the members gave a standing ovation roughly twenty four separate times. Yes, I counted, I kid you not. Each time someone introduced their family, the members rose to clap. Each time someone finished speaking, the members rose to clap. Each time a dignitary in the audience was introduced, the members rose to clap.

I was glad my children were present. Maybe they will try this at home! See, here they are standing up and clapping fervently.

After the ceremony adjourned, hearty congratulations were extended. Wait, oops. Look at that photo below. The right side of the room is living in the moment, celebrating, pat on the backs, high fives, fist bumps…but, where is the left side of the room? In the past, it was the left who were euphoric, anxiously anticipating yet another legislative session. Not anymore. On this historic day, they were simply, well, just gone.

I guess they have their first taste of what it feels like to serve in the minority. Yeah, not fun.

Oklahoma History

This is the Oklahoma State Capitol. Today, history was made in the marble palace when the newly elected members of the Legislature were sworn into service. In the 101 years of Oklahoma State history, this is the first time members of the Republican party have held a majority of the members in the State Senate. Did I mention they also hold a majority in the House of Representatives? Well, they do. Did I mention how much I love Oklahoma? Where else can you find an oil rig on the grounds of the Capitol building?

This is the entrance to the Senate Chamber. I can’t go through that secret door but my Senator can. It leads to his desk in the Senate Chamber. During session if you listen carefully, you can hear lots of interesting conversations in that reception area. They speak softly and for good reason.

This is the fourth floor of the Capitol Rotunda and what I refer to as the Lion’s Den. The Lion’s Den is where the lobbyists hang out during the legislative session plotting and planning how to pass legislation, kill legislation or resurrect a piece of legislation from the dead. I like lobbyists, I really do. They are nice people… most of the time.

The acoustics in the rotunda are horrible unless you are trying to hear someone’s conversation. Then you just have to hang in the middle and keep your ears open. People have receptions here and get married here. But, I digress. A warning to all you citizens out there – unless you have an L (for lobbyist) branded on your forehead – beware of the lion’s den next time you head out to the Capitol to talk to your legislator. Avoid it like the plague. It’s a feeding frenzy.

This is the Senate Chamber. It looks quiet and peaceful and empty.

This is what the Chamber looks like full of people. On special days like today, family and friends are abundant. So are elected officials from all three branches of government. The Lieutenant Governor was on hand, the State Supreme Court’s Chief Justice administered the oath of office, former State Senator’s were in the chamber as well as many, many campaign volunteers and friends. The Governor was conspicuously missing. I wonder if he overslept?

Below are the new members becoming new members and old members, well, being sworn in to another term as members.

Meanwhile, back in my Senator’s office, the Senator’s children find the contents of his desk much more interesting. And, that my friends, is worthy of its own blog post.

Love, the Senator’s Wife

Recently, my senator showed me a sampling of mail that he receives at the Capitol. I think he was worried I wouldn’t have enough material to write about.

Anyway, in this stack of ‘stuff’ was a cheat sheet. Not just your normal cheat sheet, but a list of acronyms for the numerous agencies and institutions they deal with on a daily basis down at that marble palace.

Here are a few of them:

ODOT = Oklahoma Department of Transportation
ABLE = Alcohol Beverage Law Enforcement
CLEET = Law Enforcement Education & Training (Huh? How do you get that from CLEET?)
DEQ = Department of Environmental Quality
OSEEGIB = State Employees & ???? ( Guess they didn’t get that one either!)
LSB = Legislative Service Bureau
COGS = Local Government Jurisdictions ( Seriously, who thinks up this stuff!)
DOC = Department of Corrections
OTC = Oklahoma Tax Commission (duh)

And, my personal favorite:

BS = Talk you hear in committees

Next week I’ll post about the swearing in ceremony at the Capitol. That should be a real treat.
Love, the Senator’s Wife

Boxes of Buttons

Several nights ago I asked my senator how he first became interested in politics.
“By default,” he replied.
That response being a little vague, I begged him to continue…
My senator explained that when he was young he was in the hospital with appendicitis for a few weeks.  While there, he could only watch television on the three major networks and a faulty PBS station.   All four were simultaneously broadcasting the Watergate hearings around the clock.  Ugh, can you imagine life before cable?
So, my senator received an early political education as a child and hence, “by default” was  introduced to some of Washington’s finer moments.  I am sure this left a lasting impression.
Although, it would appear that my senator had no problem filing politics safely away in pursuit of other things like girls, football, school, a career in business, and a family.  But, seriously, Watergate?
So, I changed the subject and questioned, “then, where did all the buttons come from?”
“My political buttons”, he asked?  “Oh, I only started collecting those after I ran for office.”
 Surely you jest, Senator! All those buttons?
Let me say one thing about these political buttons.  My senator has boxes and boxes of them.  He has everything from the likes of, ‘Wallace for President’ and  ‘I Like Ike‘, to ‘Disco Obama‘,  ‘Sore-Loserman’ and ‘Homeschoolers for Huckabee‘.  True, he has invested a small fortune in them along with our children’s college fund.  Did I mention that he has BOXES and BOXES of them?
So, I took pictures of this spectacle finding it hard to believe the addiction began after he ran for office.  I mean, this is the guy who lives to shop at Political Americana.
The other night I caught my senator admiring a sampling of his buttons.   Do you think he looks at me that way?  Seriously,  this is a very, scary thing?

Below are a few buttons from candidates who never made it to the big dance.  As you can see from some of the names and faces, we do not discriminate based on party affiliation.  These are the losers, and judging by the sheer volume in his collection, there have been lots and lots of losers.

This one has lights.
And, my personal favorite – the Oklahoma collection.

Sometimes my senator pulls these out at parties.  Other times he might give one away to a friend, but only if he thinks they share a similar appreciation for the history.  I think we will be opening our own ‘Political Americana’ store soon.

Who Knew

Roughly sixteen years ago when I first met my senator, I had no idea he was remotely interested in politics.  He was a small businessman who liked to volunteer in the community.  He lived in a “batch” pad, had lots of friends and seemed to be a part of most every non-profit fundraiser or civic event in town.   It was not long before he involved me with some of these philanthropic adventures.  My senator had me manning a booth at our local arts festival and attending black tie events.   

We ran a 10K race together, back when we both looked good in spandex.

And, he even got me to ride on a motorcycle! (Shhhh, don’t anyone tell my dad!)

Regardless of all the quality time we were spending together, conversations about politics were just not discussed. And, believe it or not, it was a welcome relief to this political junkie. I mean, what if his political opinions were vastly different from mine?  After all, I had just returned home from Washington D.C.  having spent several years working “inside the beltway” . I had campaigned for our state’s senior U.S. Senator back when he was Governor. Yes, I was only seven at the time, but politics had always been my sport and I had some serious political opinions. This good looking, businessman, ‘ not yet senator’ was a breath of fresh air!  Besides, I am sure he knew that anything remotely related to politics would be a horrible way to converse on a first date!

To be continued…

The Infamous Campaign Photo

Anyone who runs for political office finds it necessary to have a really nice family photograph.

The first year my senator ran, we used our family Christmas card picture. Four years later, we did the same. Although, in honesty, we knew a re-election was around the corner, so we hired that same wonderful, professional photographer which proved to be a very smart move.  When young children are involved, I have found it to be a lot easier to get them to “smile” in a picture they thought was for a Christmas card then if it were for daddy’s campaign.

So, they don’t like being used as props…go figure. I was just proud to have pulled it off… Christmas card and possible campaign picture – two for the price of one. Well, sort of. That very nice and wonderful photographer allowed us to use his photo for campaign purposes even though a small fee was involved. Just chalk that one up to the price of doing business.

Here are the two infamous campaign photos.

Campaign Photo #1

Campaign Photo #2

It goes without saying that Campaign Photo #3 is out there looming on the horizon.

Just think, if you have a great family photo, then you too have just met the first requirement of running for public office.

Love, the Senator’s wife

P.S. More political paraphernalia coming soon!

Political Terminology

It is a new day in Oklahoma politics, especially at our state capitol where the Republicans have taken control of the state senate for the first time in our 101 year history.  Recently, my senator returned from a caucus meeting at the capitol where they discussed ‘caucus stuff’.  Please note that a security clearance must be required to learn what they talked about because they certainly won’t tell you the details of what went on in that room.  I have this image of a bunch of men with their sleeves rolled up, sitting around smoking cigars.  Kind of like the t.v. series Madmen, except they are not drinking whiskey at 10:00 a.m. down at the capitol – at least not yet.

The political terminology used down at the capitol can be rather amusing – especially if you have absolutely no idea what the words mean.  Here are a few of my favorites:
Sine Die – Indefinitely ( They use this word signifying the last day of the legislative session.  So, I assume that means they plan to adjourn indefinitely.)
President Pro Tempore – The Senator who presides over the Senate in the absence of the Vice President.  One can safely assume that the ‘Pro Tem’ is always presiding because the Vice President rarely makes it to Oklahoma.
Whip – A member of the legislative body, charged by his party with enforcing discipline and insuring attendance.  As in Whip in, or to keep together, as members of a political party.  (How about whipping it up a little bit Senators!)
And, then my favorite:  PEW, Post Election Withdrawl Syndrome- an ailment from which I am currently suffering.