Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Former OK Govs. Walters, Keating See Strengths of Term Limits for Parties

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Former OK Govs. Walters, Keating See Strengths of Term Limits for Parties

Article excerpt

You wouldn't expect former Govs. Frank Keating and David Walters to agree on much, but they do come together when it comes to the positive impact of term limits - as evidenced by the growth in contested primaries of both parties and the infusion of new lawmakers with new ideas.

There are five Republican and seven Democratic state Senate primaries today, with 21 GOP and 22 Democratic primaries in the state House.

Walters said term limits and the fact that the two political parties are more nearly equivalent have both contributed to the number of contested races this year.

It is very encouraging, both on the Republican side, frankly, and on the Democratic side, that we have so many unknown, young, really fire-in-the-belly kind of folks who are stepping up and running for office, said Walters, a longtime supporter of term limits.

Keating said the opening of many seats due to term limits, and the fact that Republicans can now run for the Legislature with an eye toward moving into leadership positions, have both played a part in boosting primary contests.

I think it's healthy for both parties to have contested primaries, because I think it will, more times than not, push to the fore the stronger or strongest candidate, Keating said.

Walters said he believes there are more hotly contested Republican primaries these days because the party is maturing and growing toward a majority status.

Our history in this state is that the Democrats have knock-down, drag-out primaries in which everybody hates each other by the time they get to the general election, which makes it troublesome to win a general election, he said. The Republicans would always kind of be standing by licking their chops, saving their money.

As Walters noted, the tables have turned this primary season, with some GOP candidates for the 5th Congressional District, governor and lieutenant governor running attack ads against their primary opponents.

I find it interesting to watch how, not just lucky, but how fortunate Brad Henry is, to be able to sit there with a few million dollars in the bank, while these four Republican challengers are emptying their bank accounts on each other, he said.

Walters said Democrats have good, well-qualified candidates that can mount strong campaigns in November.

The real test of the party and its candidates and its strength will be in the general election, he said.

Walters understands that there are those within his own party who disagree with him on the benefits of term limits.

He believes any downside to term limits is outweighed by the fact that there will be no more lawmakers who serve multiple decades wielding out-of-balance power over certain agencies or programs.

That's the huge upside of getting the Legislature kind of stuffed back into the genie bottle, because they had grown so powerful because of their longevity, that now we're going to see a greater balance, Walters said. …

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