On Nov. 4, the Republican Party nationally didn't fare very well, but Oklahoma Republicans had reason to celebrate.
For the first time in state history, the GOP controls both chambers of the Legislature. Oklahoma voters gave House Republicans an additional four seats and control of the state Senate for the first time in state history. Republicans at the top of the ticket did well. Sen. James Inhofe and all four Republican House members were re-elected. We won both Corporation Commission races and the entire commission is now Republican. All 77 counties in Oklahoma went for John McCain.
Why did the Sooner State do well? Here are four reasons Oklahoma Republicans outperformed the national GOP.
First, Oklahoma Republicans had better candidates. If a party recruits principled, ethical people to run for office, helps them formulate their message and provides a solid ground game, they will win races. The Oklahoma Republican Party, under Gary Jones' leadership, has done an outstanding job of recruiting candidates and providing infrastructure in campaigns. From training volunteers to creative "get out the vote" efforts, the Oklahoma GOP should be the model for the national party.
Second, Oklahoma Republicans had a better message. The Democratic Party has drifted away from the values of most Oklahomans. In 2008, conservative Democrats said, "We've had enough!" Some switched party affiliation, but many just voted straight Republican, which accounts for the success in some predominately blue counties electing a Republican county officer for the first time. The liberal Democrat message doesn't play well in conservative Oklahoma and most Democrats know it. That's why many try to "put on their conservative hat" in their media ads. In pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, Second Amendment Oklahoma, the liberal socialist message is about as welcome as a skunk at the family picnic.
Third, Oklahoma Republicans had a better track record. In 2004, when Republicans were given control of the state House, they performed well. House Republicans have cut taxes, filled up the rainy day fund and started fixing our crumbling infrastructure. The citizens of Oklahoma took note and said, "If the GOP can do such a good job with one chamber, let's give them the other." Watch out, Oklahoma " with both chambers under Republican leadership, watch the hard issues be addressed "early" in the session.
And finally, Oklahoma Republicans bucked the national trend on Nov. 4 because Oklahoma Democrats have lost their direction. They are out of touch with the average Oklahoman.
Oklahoma Democrats controlled state government for almost a century. Their "leadership" had Oklahomans making less than the average American doing the same job. Their "leadership" had Oklahoma ranked near the top in divorce and lack of health care. Their "leadership" had Oklahoma near the bottom in teacher pay. At some point, Oklahomans said "we have to change direction" and they did so in 2004. They continued down that road a few weeks ago. It's a great time to be a Republican in Oklahoma!
Fair is chairman of the 4th Congressional District of the Oklahoma Republican Party. His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com.