WASHINGTON — For the past few election cycles, Oklahoma has been branded among the reddest states in the nation. With not a single county tilting in favor of Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, the state reinforced that brand.
However, as President Obama started his second term with his presidential inauguration Monday, several Oklahomans could be found throughout the nation’s Capitol looking forward to the festivities and what they mean for the future.
“It’s a great feeling to be here,” said State Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City. “It’s the second Inauguration that I’ve been to in my life. I came to the first Obama inauguration and, of course, it was an electric feeling. This inauguration is an excellent feeling because there were so many doubters. To see him pull it out in such a big way, it shows people that the United States is changing in a way.”
Obama was sworn in as president Sunday in a private ceremony with just his family and a few staff members on hand. But Monday was the public’s chance to witness the event as an estimated 800,000 people filled the Washington Mall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. By most accounts, that is a million less than the number who came out in force in 2009.
The lower numbers didn’t dampen the excitement surrounding the inauguration. Clay Ward, who is a native of Broken Bow, has lived in Washington, D.C., since 2000 and works for the Department of Homeland Security. He attended the 2009 inauguration.
“I think the Oklahomans that are here are here to experience a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Ward said. “It’s not going to be as large as it was four years ago, but I think it’s large enough.”
Oklahoman Kyle Ensley attended his first presidential inauguration. Even though he has worked in Washington over the past year at the Bureau of International Information Programs, he was looking forward to taking in the festivities with fellow Oklahomans.