WASHINGTON — More than 4,000 Democrats and independents in Oklahoma switched their registrations to Republican from mid-January to mid-April, according to the state Election Board. Far fewer voters switched to the Democratic Party or to independent status.
According to the state election board:
•3,634 people switched from Democrat to Republican;
•515 switched from independent to Republican;
•321 switched from Republican to Democrat;
•243 switched from independent to Democrat;
•326 switched from Democrat to independent; and
•342 switched from Republican to independent.
The registration changes represent a small fraction of the total voters in Oklahoma.
On April 14, there were 882,624 Democrats, 861,377 Republicans and 242,205 independents.
And those voters — particularly young ones — have a chance this year to improve upon the state’s very low ranking in a new U.S. Census Bureau report on youth voting in 2012.
According to the report, only 27 percent of Oklahoma voters between the ages 18 and 29 voted in 2012. That’s well below the national average of 45 percent; only West Virginia had a lower rate.
For adults 30 and older, the rate for Oklahoma was 59.9 percent, above only Arkansas and West Virginia.
According to the Census Bureau, the study estimated the number of people who registered to vote and who voted based on direct interviews with household respondents.
In the first two months of his campaign for the U.S. Senate, state Rep. T.W. Shannon collected donations from some American Indian tribes in Oklahoma and other states. The Choctaw Nation contributed $2,000; the Comanches gave him $2,600; the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in California donated $2,600; and there were a few others.
There was one tribe conspicuously absent on the campaign finance report filed with the U.S. Senate this month: the Chickasaw Nation.
Shannon, of Lawton, is a Chickasaw, and his tribal affiliation has been a major part of his personal and political profile.
The tribe has been generous with candidates, political parties and political action committees. In 2012, for instance, the tribe gave $25,000 to a group called Texas Conservatives Fund, a so-called super PAC running ads to defeat Republican Ted Cruz in the U.S. Senate primary.
Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said in a statement to The Oklahoman last month that the tribe fully supports Shannon and believes he would be an exceptional senator.
Anoatubby donated $1,000 to Shannon’s cause, as did some other Chickasaw leaders and tribal employees.
Anoatubby declined to respond to a question from The Oklahoman last month about whether the tribe had contributed to a group called Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, which was formed to back Shannon and does not to have to reveal its donors. The group has already spent more than $400,000 on Shannon’s behalf.
The tribe could give unlimited amounts of money to that group and still donate directly to Shannon — $2,600 per election.
Another notably absent name from Shannon’s first financial contribution report is former U.S. Ambassador L. Francis Rooney III. Rooney, of Tulsa, told The Hill newspaper in Washington and The Oklahoman that he had donated the maximum amount to Shannon’s campaign. That was in March, and those donations would have shown up on a report that covered all donations through March 31.
Rooney, who is from Tulsa, donated $1 million to a super PAC supporting GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. He said in March that he hadn’t decided whether to donate to Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, which was created by an employee of a Rooney company.
Shannon is running for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee. U.S. Rep. James Lankford, of Oklahoma City, and former state Sen. Randy Brogdon, of Tulsa, are among those also running for the GOP nomination.
The primaries are June 24.
State Rep. Mike Turner, R-Edmond, said when he announced for the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Lankford that he wouldn’t take money from lobbyists or special interests.
According to a report filed with the Federal Election Commission this week, Turner received only $3,400 in donations through March. Meanwhile, he put $500,000 of his own money into the race.
Though Turner’s rejection of special interest money suggests independence and transparency, it’s not clear where Turner’s own money came from.
Stephen Paulsen, a campaign aide to Turner, said the 27-year-old lawmaker owns a restaurant and invests in start-up companies that are involved in manufacturing. Paulsen said The Oklahoman should submit questions in writing to a campaign email address.
The campaign did not respond to a question about whether Turner’s money came from income earned through his own work or inheritance or both.
Nor was a response given to questions about $25,000 in payments to “HPPC” for “consulting” at the same address as Turner’s campaign headquarters.