Oklahoma Democratic Party

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Oklahoma Democratic Party
Chairperson Anna Langthorn[1]
Senate Leader John Sparks
(Norman)
House Leader Scott Inman
(Oklahoma City)
Founded 1907
Headquarters
3700 N Classen Blvd., Suite 100
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73118
Youth wing Young Democrats of Oklahoma
Ideology Liberalism
Progressivism
Social liberalism
National affiliation Democratic Party
Unofficial colors Blue
US Senate
(Oklahoma seats)
0 / 2
US House
(Oklahoma seats)
0 / 5
OK statewide offices held
0 / 11
Seats in the OK Senate
6 / 48
Seats in the OK House
26 / 101
Website
www.okdemocrats.org

The Oklahoma Democratic Party is an Oklahoma political party affiliated with the United States Democratic Party. Along with the Oklahoma Republican Party, it is one of the two major parties in Oklahoma politics.

The party once dominated local politics in Oklahoma almost since the days of early statehood in 1907 to 1994. In national politics, the party became a dominant force beginning with the presidential election of 1932 and the Franklin D. Roosevelt political re-alignment. From 1932 to 1994, the majority of members of Congress from Oklahoma have been Democrats, and of the 27 men and women who have been elected to the office of Governor of Oklahoma, 22 have been Democrats.[2]

However, the party has fared poorly since 1994. Democrats lost five out of six congressional races that year and since then have only won a single seat back, only to lose it again in the 2012 election. In response, the traditionally disorganized Oklahoma Democrats have taken steps to create a more organized state party, hiring a professional executive director in 1995.[3] Even so, Democrats continued to lose ground in the 2000s, losing control of both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate. In 2008, Oklahoma gave the lowest percentage of any state's vote to national Democrat Barack Obama in the presidential election.

As of January 15, 2013, there are 962,072 registered Democratic voters in Oklahoma.[4]

In the 2012 general election, the party was successful in defending all incumbents in the Oklahoma Legislature and defeating two Republican House members.

History

The Oklahoma Democratic Party once dominated state politics for much of Oklahoma history from 1907 to 1994, with its strength in greatest concentrations in the southeastern part of the state, known as "Little Dixie" because of the post-Reconstruction migration of people from southern states such as Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas.[3]

Upon statehood, all but one of the Congressional seats was held by Democrats. The Democrats won eighteen of the twenty-one gubernatorial elections since its statehood in 1907. The Democratic Party held on average 81 percent of the seats in the state legislature between 1907 and 1973.[5] With the onset of the Great Depression, the party gained even more influence for several decades.

The first legislature, dominated by Democratic party members, passed legislation that made it nearly impossible for African-Americans to seek elective office.[6]

Democratic opposition to deficit spending in the late 1930s marked a growing conservative movement in the party, which led to a 1941 constitutional amendment requiring legislators to pass a balanced budget.[7] The growing conservative movement in the party also led to the rejection of many New Deal programs after initial acceptance in the early 1930s.[8]

After the federal Voting Rights Act and congressional reapportionment in Oklahoma in the 1960s, black state lawmakers returned to the Oklahoma Legislature, this time many aligning with the Democratic Party and hailing from Tulsa or Oklahoma City.[9]

Since the 1980s the party has seen a decline as Christian fundamentalists have shifted to the Republican Party. The Democratic Party has not attained more than 41 percent of the vote for president. As of 2000 about 55 percent of Oklahoma voters registered as Democrats.[10] The party continues to decline in strength in both the Oklahoma Legislature and executive branch. For the first time since statehood, Republicans hold all statewide-elected offices starting in 2011.

Current structure and composition

The Oklahoma Democratic Party headquarters is located North Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City.[11] They host the biennial state conventions in May of odd-numbered years, in which they elect executive officers and delegates to the Democratic National Committee. The Democratic National Committee is responsible for promoting Democratic campaign activities, overseeing the process of writing the national Democratic Platform, and supervising the Democratic National Convention. Delegates serve four-year terms concurrent with presidential elections.

Anna Langthorn became the newly elected chair of the party May 20, 2017. Brian Jones was elected vice chair that year.[12] Jim Frasier and Betty McElderry are delegates for the Democratic National Committee.[12]

The state party coordinates campaign activities with Democratic candidates and county parties, and officers who correspond with the state's five Congressional districts. In 2005, the Democratic National Committee began a program called the "50 State Strategy" of using national funds to assist all state parties and pay for full-time professional staffers.[13]

The Young Democrats of Oklahoma is the official age 13-35 division of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.[14]

Officers and Staff

Officers:

  • Chair, Anna Langthorn[1]
  • Vice Chair, Brian Jones[1]
  • Secretary, Dave Ratcliff
  • Treasurer, Rachel Hunsucker[1]

Staff:

  • Executive Director, Anna Langthorn
  • Communications Director, Angela Allmond
  • Political Outreach Director, Christine Byrd
  • Data/IT Director, Andrew Rickel

[15]

Ideology

The Oklahoma Democratic Party is made up of conservative, centrist and liberal members. Less than a third of registered Democratic voters in Oklahoma supported President Barack Obama in 2012, due to the larger proliferation of conservative and centrist members of the party.[16]

Compared to other Democratic factions, Centrist members of the Oklahoma Democratic Party support the use of military force and the use of deadly force in self-defense. They are more willing to reduce government welfare. Many Oklahoma Democrats are socially conservative by supporting the United States pro-life movement and traditional marriage. The Oklahoma Democratic Party tends to support moderate to conservative positions on gun control and open carry.

The Oklahoma Democratic Party held a state convention on May 14, 2011, in which they discussed a number of platform positions.[17] Participants discussed support for public health programs, government-funded embryonic stem cell research, the legalization of medical marijuana, education funding, and opposition to voucher programs that divert tax dollars to private institutions.[17] They also discussed the state party's support of teacher's rights to unionize and policies to protect homeowners from unfair foreclosures.[17] Other party platform positions included support for the elimination of predatory lending practices, support for limitations on credit card interest rates, support for the elimination of the state sales tax on food, support for increasing taxes on the wealthiest citizens of Oklahoma, and support for reforms to the state criminal justice system.[17] The party's position on gun laws was moderate, stating support for limited, but responsible gun laws.[17] The party also supports continued investments in green energies.[17]

Attorney and former Bernie Sanders delegate Mark Henricksen, 62, who was one of three candidates running for party chair in 2017, hoped to move the Oklahoma Democratic Party in a more liberal/progressive direction. He ran against campaign manager Anna Langthon, 24, and incumbent chair Mark Hammons, 66.[18] Henricksen had been endorsed by Our Revolution.[19][20]

"I think there is an unmet demand for progressive politics in Oklahoma," Henricksen said. "I think what unites us is income inequality and a belief that core state services are not being funded."[18]

Henricksen "doesn't see a need to compromise on issues of pro-choice rights, LGBTQ equality and marijuana legalization," according to an article in The Oklahoman.[18]

Langthon blames the "functionality" of the party for its recent losses, "simple things like answering the phone or returning calls or having a dynamic and engaging website." She says the party doesn't have to back down on its message, but believes "organization and messaging" has been poor.[18]

Hammons, meanwhile, says despite poor election turnout, the party has "laid a foundation." He predicts Oklahoma will have Democrats in "virtually every Legislative race in 2018."[18]

On May 20, 2017, Langthorn was elected chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party in a runoff against Henricksen. At 24, Langthorn may be "the youngest chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party in state history." She describes herself as a Moderate Progressive.[1]

Current elected officials

The Oklahoma Democratic Party holds none of the statewide offices, no majority in either state legislative chamber, neither of the state's U.S. Senate seats and none of the state's U.S. House seats.

Legislative leadership

Notable Oklahoma Democrats

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e At 24, Langthorn is new chair of Okla Dem Party
  2. ^ Oklahoma Government, Oklahoma Historical Society (accessed February 11, 2010).
  3. ^ a b Gaddie, Ronald Keith. Democratic Party, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed February 11, 2010).
  4. ^ 2013 Registration Report, Oklahoma State Election Board (accessed May 12, 2013)
  5. ^ Carney, George O., "McGuire, George O. (1865-1930)," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture Archived May 31, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. (accessed May 28, 2010).
  6. ^ Bruce, Michael L. "Hamlin, Albert Comstock (1881-1912)" http://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry.php?entry=HA015, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, Oklahoma Historical Society. (accessed April 17, 2013)
  7. ^ Everett, Dianna. Budget-Balancing Amendment, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 11, 2013)
  8. ^ Bryant Jr., Keith L. New Deal, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 9, 2013)
  9. ^ Franklin, Jimmie Lewis. African Americans, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture Archived April 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine. (accessed May 11, 2013)
  10. ^ Gaddie, Ronald Keith. "Democratic Party." Oklahoma Historical Society. Ed. Nancy L Bednar. Oklahoma Historical Society. Ed. Ronald Keith Gaddie. Web. Nov. 7 2011. http://digital.library.okstate.edu/encyclopedia/entries/D/DE013.html.,
  11. ^ Contact Us, Oklahoma Democratic Party (accessed February 11, 2010).
  12. ^ a b Staff and Officers, Oklahoma Democratic Party (accessed February 11, 2010).
  13. ^ Gilgoff, Dan (16 July 2006). "Dean's List". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on 8 July 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2007. 
  14. ^ Ydoklahoma.com (accessed May 11, 2013)
  15. ^ http://www.okdemocrats.org
  16. ^ 2012 Election Analysis: Obama and Oklahoma Democrats, Soonerpoll.com (accessed May 11, 2013)
  17. ^ a b c d e f Baggett, James. "Oklahoma Democrats." 2011 Convention: Rules, Resolutions, Affirmative Action Committee members (two men and two women); to consider proposed Minutes from 2009. Oklahoma Democrats, n.d. Web. 7 Nov. 2011. <http://www.okdemocrats.org 2011-convention-rules-resolutions-minutes-from-2009>.
  18. ^ a b c d e 3 vie to lead Oklahoma's Democratic party, NewsOK.com (accessed April 9, 2017)
  19. ^ Our Revolution Endorses Mark Henricksen for Oklahoma Democratic Party State Chair, OurRevolution.com (accessed April 9, 2017)
  20. ^ Reddit: Our Revolution Endorses Mark Henricksen for Oklahoma Democratic Party State Chair, reddit.com (accessed April 9, 2017)

External links

  • Oklahoma Democratic Party
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