The Norman Transcript

State/Region

July 31, 2013

Big-name Okla. Democrats missing from 2014 elections

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

“And if there’s a conservative Democrat that’s out there that wants to come on board, we welcome them with open arms,” he said.

The obvious goal, he noted, was to maintain GOP control of the Legislature and every statewide and federal elected office in Oklahoma. But he said the GOP also hopes to overtake Democrats in party registration, a gap Republicans have been closing over the past decade.

Democrats total 45 percent of the voter registration, compared with 42 percent for Republicans. The rest are independents.

“It’s going to happen within the next decade, regardless,” Weston said. “But we think we can speed that up.”

Democrats could have some success in 2014 in state House and Senate races if good candidates are willing to work hard, said Andrew Rice, the former Democratic leader of the Oklahoma Senate who unsuccessfully ran against U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe in 2008. But Rice said the chances of a Democrat winning a statewide election in Oklahoma in 2014, while President Barack Obama remains in office, are not good.

“I think some of your more viable candidates are waiting for better opportunities later on, when the White House isn’t occupied by a president who is culturally and politically unpopular in Oklahoma,” Rice said. “That hurts.”

Rice said he believes the political pendulum eventually will return to the Democrats’ favor as urban and suburban districts become more moderate and more Hispanics become politically active, but he acknowledges that Republicans appear to still have the momentum.

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