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July 6, 2014

Vote issues could drive large turnout

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

State Sen. Connie Johnson, who is vying to become the Democratic nominee in the race for Oklahoma’s open U.S. Senate seat, is one of the few Democrats who has openly supported both marijuana initiatives.

Dorman, meanwhile, is less enthusiastic.

“I will say this one will be up to the voters, and Oklahomans will get to decide if this is a policy that should go into effect or not,” Dorman said. “I’m working on other issues on the campaign trail and looking forward to seeing what Oklahoma voters decide on that.”

Oklahoma Republicans also have used state questions as an effective way to energize their base. In 2010, when Republicans swept every statewide elected office on the ballot and increased their margins in the House and Senate, questions on the ballot included a ban on Sharia law, making English the official state language and an attempt to prohibit forced participation in the federal health care law.

Keith Gaddie, the chairman of the political science department at the University of Oklahoma, said that while Dorman could get a bump at the polls if the school shelter initiative makes it onto the ballot, he said he doesn’t see the marijuana initiative being much of a factor.

“You have to have a wedge issue that’s sufficiently powerful to motivate people to turn out, and there’s just not this great clamoring mass in the state that’s determined to push pot. It’s just not there,” Gaddie said. “Now shelters, that’s a good one.”

Jacintha Bachman, the president of the Young Democrats of Oklahoma, says that while pro-marijuana voters likely will be younger and more liberal, she says the school shelter proposal seems to be gaining more traction with young Democrats.

“It’s easy for young people to remember being in school and having tornado drills, and we had tons of high school and college students who were helping with holding signature drives and doing data entry on that issue,” Bachman said. “I think that will motivate a lot of young people.”

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