Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: OK House Republicans Move to Shore Up Ranks

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: OK House Republicans Move to Shore Up Ranks

Article excerpt

Majority parties often suffer more from power struggles within their ranks than from the slings of the minority.

For the first time in 80 years, Republicans control the Oklahoma House of Representatives. After only 15 months they are beginning to act like Democrats.

In-rank discord recently bubbled to the surface. Power struggles and jockeying for position to run for House speaker next year have materialized.

To the dismay of the Democrats, Republicans also are exercising the power over pending legislation that traditionally goes with being the majority party.

This deeply offends the now-minority Democrats who mastered the art of suppressing minority party legislation over eight decades of being in power and long considered such practices their proprietary right.

State Rep. Lance Cargill, R-Harrah, who stepped down as majority floor leader last week, apparently was caught in the conflict. He was actively campaigning to be the speaker of the House next year to succeed state Rep. Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, whose legislative service is term-limited this year and who is running for lieutenant governor.

Earlier Cargill claimed enough pledges to be chosen speaker- designate by the Republican caucus for 2007. His support has waned, but he continues to be a candidate.

Speaker of the House Pro Tempore Susan Winchester, R-Chickasha, also is seeking the post, but state Rep. Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, chairman of the powerful House budget committee, has emerged as a definite possibility.

Cargill was criticized for failing to move forward the work of the House in considering its bills in a timely fashion, but Hiett said the work on House bills was completed by the March 16 deadline. Democrats complained their bills were left off the House agenda.

Given the number of House bills reported out of committee, that is not surprising. Under the best of circumstances it would have been difficult to hear all of them.

Several of the Democrat measures were of a partisan nature intended to advance their agenda. Some included subjects in bills authored by Republicans, for which they wanted to take credit.

Some Republicans were unhappy because of the late-night sessions that were necessary and because a few hot-button socio/moral measures got to the floor at the expense of key business legislation. …

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