Magazine article Politics Magazine

Oklahoma

Magazine article Politics Magazine

Oklahoma

Article excerpt

TO WEDGE OR NOT TO WEDGE will be the question for the Republican Party in Oklahoma's 2010 governor's race. "Republicans are going to operate by the standard playbook," says Todd Goodman, chairman of the state Democratic Party. "They are going to raise the wedge issues which divide the party. Voter ID, immigration and English-only legislation are going to be front and center."

Social issues are a political fault line in Oklahoma, says Bob Darcy, political science professor at Oklahoma State University. They play well to the heavily conservative white metroregion voting blocs of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, but may alienate the Chamber of Commerce and the Democratic eastern districts. The Sooner State has had a conservative streak for decades, with Republicans recently gaining majorities in both the state House and Senate in '08. If they can get one of their own into the executive office, it will be the first time in history that Republicans control both the legislature and the executive branch simultaneously.

But Republicans could blow it, says Roy Williams, CEO and president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, if they veer too far right. "Sure, there are a lot of people making noise on the far right," says Williams, "but I don't know they're pulling a lot of people with them. …

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