Democratic Party freefall continues in Sooner State
by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
THE results of Tuesday’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate said a lot about the sad state of the party in Oklahoma.
State Sen. Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City, a well-known member of the Legislature and a staunch defender of traditional Democratic ideals, was one of three Democrats who filed for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee. The other two Democrats, as the Tulsa World put it in a news story last month, “are not considered serious candidates.”
Yet Johnson managed to win only 44 percent of the vote Tuesday and therefore faces a runoff in late August. Jim Rogers, a perennial candidate who generally does nothing more than stand on a street corner holding a sign, received 35 percent.
Do Oklahoma voters see the candidate’s last name and think of Will Rogers, who’s been dead 79 years this August, and figure that was good enough for them? Did Johnson, after reviewing the short and anemic roster of Democratic challengers, expect that she would coast to the general election in November and therefore not hustle as hard as she should have?
Perhaps the answer to both questions is yes. But our sense is the result offers further evidence of the Democratic Party’s continued decline in Oklahoma in the face of remarkable growth by the Republican Party. Neither trend appears likely to change any time soon.