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Oklahoma education group doesn't make grade in trying to sway campaigns

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: July 1, 2012

FANCY websites run by advocacy groups don't necessarily translate into a good political strategy. The latest evidence of this comes from 49th is Not OK, a group seeking to increase education funding.

49th is Not OK takes its name from a national ranking of Oklahoma's per-pupil funding. Its handsome website tries to make the case for increased spending, although little substance is provided beyond references to pre-recession funding levels. The group is notably vague about what programs it would cut to free up money for schools or specific spending plans.

49th is Not OK urges citizens to “ask the candidates running for office what they plan to do for public education if they're elected.” Those involved with the group have said citizens must elect the right candidates to implement the spending changes they seek.

This is true, and citizen participation in the democratic process is a good thing. But in terms of electoral impact, that train has already left the station and 49th is Not OK is still trying to buy a ticket. The vast majority of legislative races are already decided with relatively few competitive races remaining.

In the state Senate, seven of 24 seats going before voters this year were filled during candidate filing because no challengers emerged. Two more were decided in Republican primaries; two more will be determined in primary runoffs on Aug. 28.

In two districts, incumbent Republican senators now face only independent candidates. Those races are essentially over. Two districts have already flipped to Republican control because no Democrats filed; it's mathematically impossible for Democrats to shift control of the GOP-run Senate.

In the House, 54 of the 101 House seats drew only one candidate. Another 10 members were elected during the primary. In one district, incumbent Republican Rep. Guy Liebmann was ousted by a challenger, Mike Turner, who promised to be more conservative and oppose increased government spending. We doubt Turner's victory was what 49th is Not OK had in mind. Candidates in several open seats are also running against higher government spending.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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