The Edmond Sun

June 29, 2012

OUR VIEW: Primary leaves much to think about in state

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — Tuesday’s GOP primary election capped several weeks of intense Republican-on-Republican bashing. Voter fatigue from the confusing myriad of claims clearly showed in the low 16 percent voter turnout.

For what probably will turn out to be the most expensive state Senate race to date, all of that outside, PAC-fueled cash failed to turn out the vote with only 7,600 casting ballots in Senate District 41. While Sen. Clark Jolley won and stays in the ring until the Nov. 6 general election against Edmond Independent Richard Prawdzienski, the primary was a grueling race that did no one any favors.

While Jolley’s race against Paul Blair was notable for its expensive nature and its high amount of angst, it certainly was not an isolated negative campaign. What Oklahomans might have seen in primary races statewide are the true seeds of a third party brewing. Some conservatives might argue that the primaries were about returning the state GOP to its true, conservative roots and making more honest men and women of our legislators. We’re not sure if that message really made itself heard above the din of accusations.

A lot of the campaigning seen by Oklahomans this summer boiled down to conservatives and ultra-conservatives trying to out-conservative one another. They were talking about many of the same issues, but didn’t necessarily agree on how one arrives at the solutions.

We doubt that Senate District 41 voters disagree about a desire for smaller, less expensive government in Oklahoma. But it does matter how we get there in the end. It does matter that we elect people who can remember how to disagree while remaining civil and elect those who can bring all the parties to the table to negotiate the best solutions to our state’s problems.

And that’s why a true third party might be what’s best for all involved. Helping eliminate some of those internal Republican fights would clear the deck for better campaigning and hopefully more thorough dialogue about real issues that impact Oklahomans’ lives. It also might help candidates stay true to themselves and the promises they make in trying to get elected. The GOP’s tent has grown large and restless, much like the left and far left have chosen to part ways on some issues.

There’s no reason to attack another candidate on personal issues. Oklahoma has enough problems that need real attention without all the distractions of personal campaign rhetoric. It’s especially unnecessary for outside PACs who are not beholden to any candidate to drum up their own negative attacks that ultimately add nothing to the debate.

And maybe those who disagree so fundamentally with how their party is governing should take the next step and move their aims forward in a new way.