RUSH Springs is best known for the summer festival that celebrates the area's watermelon crop. Year in and year out, the Grady County town is a hub for some of the best melons produced anywhere.
Something besides fruit has been putting the town on the map of late. It's the enthusiasm and energy of state Rep. Joe Dorman, a Rush Springs lifer whose drive, vitality and breadth of interests reminds us of a back bencher from years ago. He, too, was more focused on ideas than ideology. We refer to Kris Steele, who worked his way up to House speaker before term limits forced him out of office.
Steele is a Republican. Dorman is a Democrat. Party affiliation alone has kept Dorman from assuming a larger role in the House. Term limits will do the rest: His next legislative session will be his last.
Dorman has repeatedly demonstrated why he's among the best and brightest, not just in his own political party but among all lawmakers. While the House Democratic leadership too often devolves into class warfare, Dorman comes up with ideas. Not all of Steele's ideas made it into law, despite his powerful position, and not all of Dorman's will either. But this hasn't sapped his enthusiasm.
Since the start of the year, Dorman has led the charge to protect school kids from storms. He's pressed for more transparent budgeting. He's called attention to a public school dedicated to educating the children of homeless parents. And he's pushing for a statewide alert system to activate when a child runs away from home.
This is but a sample of Dorman's ideas and causes. Back when Steele was generating ideas instead of engaging in ideological forays, the joke was that he was the best Republican in the Democratic Caucus. Dorman may be the best everyman in the House. Steele focused on health care and criminal justice reform. Dorman has a wide range of interests with a particular emphasis on the young.