A record number of Republicans made their voices heard at the July 27 primary election, determining who will duke it out in the general election in every category -- except GOP insurance commissioner.
"The people of Oklahoma are ready to take this country in a different direction," said Bo Summers, member of the Tulsa County Republican Party's executive committee. "It all starts with the primaries."
According to the State Election Board, about 250,000 of the almost 823,000 registered Republican voters took part in the primaries statewide this year. About 182,000 voted in 2006 and 206,000 voted in 2002.
Summers said this is a sign proving Republicans' desire for a regime change in November, he said. He attributes part of that strength to the Tea Party movement, noting that although Tulsa County Treasurer candidate and supporter of local Tea Parties Ruth Hartje did not end the race with a victory, she was still able to receive almost 18,000 votes after campaigning for a mere three months.
Don Hoover, media consultant for the Jari Askins campaign, was not surprised by the number of Republicans who showed up to cast their votes statewide, attributing part of this surge to the hotly contested Republican primary in the 5th congressional district. As he gears up to communicate with the public about the upcoming November election, he said he expects Democratic voters to make their voices heard in the general election.
"We're going to get a tremendous amount of Republican votes as well," he said. "This is not a campaign about political parties but is more about who is better prepared to lead and work with both parties."
However, Summers said Democratic efforts will not be enough to silence the conservative movement and keep conservative Democrats from swinging toward Republican candidates in November's election.
"We're looking very forward to getting a Republican sweep in November," he said.
Not all the candidates who had their names listed on the primary ballot have their sights focused on the month of November, though.
GOP insurance commissioner candidates John Crawford and John Doak emerged at the top of the three-name battle. But with Crawford receiving 42 percent of the votes and Doak receiving 39 percent of the votes, both will face off once again in an Aug. 24 runoff.
As Doak and Crawford continue campaigning throughout this month, both speak of the same goals other GOP candidates have articulated while on the campaign trail, including fiscal responsibility and protecting Oklahomans from tax hikes.
However, Crawford said he has the experience to carry out those goals. The candidate served as Oklahoma's insurance commissioner from 1995 to 1999.
"The reason I decided to run again is because the same issues are reoccurring," Crawford said. With a federally controlled health care plan and runaway Workers' Comp rates, Crawford said he has a history that shows he can make a difference.
But Doak wants voters to remember a different piece of Crawford's history.
"I had hoped more voters would have recalled the reasons that Mr. Crawford previously lost the insurance commissioner office in 1998 to the Democrats," Doak said.
In 1997, the FBI investigated Crawford over contracts he allegedly awarded on behalf of an insurance company in receivership. The FBI probe centered on the allegations that Crawford's son benefited financially from the contract.
"The Democratic candidate most certainly will remind voters of the scandal and FBI investigation of my opponent," Doak said. "In other words, he will not escape his record."
"That's been 13 years ago, and it was a wild goose chase," Crawford said of the investigation.
No charges were filed; although Crawford was defeated in the 1998 race for Oklahoma insurance commissioner.
Both candidates do agree on some issues, including the belief that the Affordable Healthcare Act is unconstitutional. Doak said he will be able to stop the implementation of Obama Care if elected as insurance commissioner.
"Regulation of insurance is specifically a matter for the Oklahoma Insurance Department under the Oklahoma Constitution," he said. "I will uphold the state power to regulate insurance and to resist the usurpation by the unconstitutional Obama-inspired federal act."
However, Crawford said his opponent is confused about what kind of powers he will have if elected.
"If anyone tells you the insurance commissioner can do anything, they're not telling the truth -- you have to follow the law, regardless," he said. "The good news is from what we're learning, 90 percent of Oklahomans didn't want the healthcare plan, and we have an opt-out option in November ... In the interim, I'm working on a plan that will offer Oklahomans who want healthcare something simple and affordable."
Crawford said his 14 years experience in the Oklahoma Insurance Department and as an actuary, or the person "who builds the policies, not sells them," gives him the experience necessary to insure the financial stability of every company that does business in Oklahoma.
Doak, who opened his own Farmer's Insurance Agency branch in the 1980s and has served as an executive at various insurance companies, believes his experience in the insurance industry will prepare him to use the power of the office to protect Oklahomans from irresponsible legislation while increasing competition among insurance providers, he said.
As the final weeks of August grow closer, these two candidates work to increase their messages before the Aug. 24 runoff.
The winner of the runoff will be the Republican who faces Democratic incumbent Kim Holland in the Nov. 2 general election.
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