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This article is about political groups and tendencies in Oklahoma. For information on the political and administrative structures (executive, legislative and judiciary) of Oklahoma, see Government of Oklahoma.


Politics of Oklahoma takes place in a framework of a presidential republic modeled after the United Statesmarker, whereby the Governor of Oklahoma is both head of state and head of government, and of a pluriform two-party system. Executive power is exercised by the Governor and the government. Legislative power is vested in the Governor and both chambers of the Oklahoma Legislature: the House of Representatives and the Senate. Judicial power is vested in the Oklahoma Court System, which is independent of the executive and the legislative branches. The political system is laid out in the 1907 Oklahoma Constitution.

Political history

Until 1964, Oklahomamarker was considered a "swing state" in Americanmarker politics, meaning, Oklahoma went back and forth between supporting the two major parties (Democrats and Republicans). The Republican candidate has carried Oklahoma in every Presidential election since 1968, mostly by large margins. However, Oklahoma voters would split their political allegiances (electing Democrats for local government, but Republicans for national office). In general, Oklahoma can be characterized as a politically conservative state (with a few exceptions).

Early Days

Oklahoma politics from statehood through World War I was dominated by the Democratic Party, with the Republican Party and the Socialist Party vying to challenge the Democratic Party's dominance. Major issues of concern during era included the fight over Jim Crow Laws (at first opposed by Republicans and Socialists, later only by the Socialists), the growing dominance of the Ku Klux Klan in government and society, and the civil rights struggles of the repressive World War I era. During this time period, Oklahoma was a three-party state in which Socialists were elected to the state legislature and local office, and also got the nation's highest vote count (per capita) for the party's candidate, Eugene V. Debs in 1916.

Following the practical destruction of the Socialist party in the aftermath of the Green Corn Rebellion and WWI repression, state politics became a two-party system which excluded Black voters.

New Deal coalition

At the U.S. Presidential level, Oklahoma's electoral college vote was a reliable part of Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" coalition (which began in the U.S. election of 1932). Oklahoma did support President Eisenhower in 1952 and 1956, but then returned to supporting the Democrats in 1964 (Oklahoma split its electoral college vote in 1960).

During this same time period, Oklahoma's Governors, legislature, and delegation to Congress continued to be dominated by the Democratic party.

Southern strategy

During the presidential campaign in 1968, Oklahoma was targeted by the Republican party to be included in what was called the Southern Strategy. Beginning with the second Presidential campaign of Richard Nixon (who appealed to Oklahoma voters on the issue of law and order), Oklahoma gradually changed in its voting pattern in national elections to become an increasingly reliable Republican state for presidential tickets. President George W. Bush carried Oklahoma twice (by a wide margin), in 2000 and 2004, for example. In 2004, every Oklahoma county voted for President George W. Bush over Senator John Kerry. In 2008, Oklahoma was the only state in which every county was carried by John McCain.

Gradually, the success of the Republican Party began to translate into Congressional, legislative, and other local political races.

Oklahoma politics today

By the start of the 21st century, conservative Republicans are the rising force in Oklahoma, but Democrats are still a major factor in statewide politics. In 2006, the incumbent Democratic governor won re-election by 66% over a former Republican Congressman. Despite the landslide victory for the Democrats, the Republicans gained two seats in the State Senate, making a 24 Democrat, 24 Republican tie in the Senate, and increased their lead in the house of 57-44. In 2008 the Republicans gained 2 Senate seats and now have 26 of the 48 seats taking over for the first time in state history, in the House the Republicans now have 61-40 seats.

Political institutions

As in the national government of the United States, power in Oklahoma is divided into three main branches: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.

Executive

The capital of the state is Oklahoma Citymarker and the Governor of Oklahoma is Brad Henry, a Democrat. His first term began on January 13, 2003 and he was reelected in 2006. The current Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma is Democrat Jari Askins. Askins concurrently serves, by virtue of her office as Lieutenant Governor, as the President of the Oklahoma Senate. The offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor have four-year terms. The Governor is assisted by a Cabinet consisting of the assembled heads of the various executive departments called Secretaries. Of the Secretaries, the highest in rank is Secretary of State, currently M. Susan Savage, a Democrat, who is the only appointed executive office set out under the Oklahoma Constitution.

All other nine state wide executive offices are contested in elections, with all offices other than the Corporation Commissioners, who serve staggered six year terms, serving four year terms that run concurrent with that of the Governor.

Current executive branch



Office Current Officer Since Party
Governor of Oklahoma Brad Henry January 13, 2003 Democratic
Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins January 2, 2007 Democratic
Secretary of State M. Susan Savage January 13, 2003 Democratic
State Auditor and Inspector Steve Burrage June 16, 2008 Democratic
Attorney General Drew Edmondson January 9, 1995 Democratic
State Treasurer Scott Meacham May 3, 2005 Democratic
State School Superintendant Sandy Garrett January 14, 1991 Democratic
Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields January 8, 2007 Democratic
Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland January 21, 2005 Democratic
Corporation Commissioner (by length of tenure) Bob Anthony January 9, 1989 Republican
Corporation Commissioner Jeff Cloud January 13, 2003 Republican
Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy January 12, 2009 Republican


Legislative

The Oklahoma Legislature is a bicameral body consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives, with all members elected directly by the people. The House of Representatives has 101 members, each serving a two-year term. The Senate has 48 members, each serving a four-year term. Members of both houses are elected from single member districts of equal population. The 101 Representatives serve two year terms and the 48 Senators serve staggered four year terms, such that only half of the senate districts have elections every two years.

The state has term limits for their legislature that restrict any one person to a total of twelve years service in both the House and Senate.

The Legislature convenes in regular session at noon each odd number year on the first Monday in February. However, in the odd numbered years following an election, the Legislature must meet on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January for the sole purpose of determining the outcome of the state wide-elections. The state constitution limits the Legislature to meeting 160 legislative days during each biennium. In addition, the Legislature may not meet in regular session after the last Friday in May of each year.

Current composition

Presidential elections results
Year Republican Democrat
2008 65.65% 960,165 34.35% 502,496
2004 65.57% 959,792 34.43% 503,966
2000 60.31% 744,337 38.43% 474,276
1996 48.26% 582,315 40.45% 488,105
1992 42.65% 592,929 34.02% 473,066
1988 57.93% 678,367 41.28% 483,423
1984 68.61% 861,530 30.67% 385,080
1980 60.50% 695,570 34.97% 402,026
1976 49.96% 545,708 48.75% 532,442
1972 73.70% 759,025 24.00% 247,147
1968 47.68% 449,697 31.99% 301,658
1964 44.25% 412,665 55.75% 519,834
1960 59.02% 533,039 40.98% 370,111
In the 52nd Legislature (2009–2011), the Republicans control the House of Representatives (61 to 40) and the Senate (26 to 22) for the first time in state history.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives



Affiliation Members
Republican Party 61
Democratic Party 40
Seat Vacant 0
 Total 101


The Oklahoma Senate





Affiliation Members
Republican Party 26
Democratic Party 22
Seat Vacant 0
Total 48


Current Leadership

The Oklahoma House of Representatives



The Oklahoma Senate



Judicial

The Oklahoma Court Systemhas six levels. Most cases start in the district courts, which are courts of general jurisdiction. The lowest level courts are the Municipal Courts which exist to oversee the administration of justice within cities and have jurisdiction only over the violation of city ordinances. Appeals from Municipal Courts are heard by District Courts. There are 77 District Courts, with each having either a single or multiple District Judges with at least one Associate District Judge to administer justice. Appeals from the District Courts and challenges to certain governmental decisions are heard by either the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appealsfor civil appeals or the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appealsfor criminal appeals. The Court of Civil Appeals has twelve judges who sit in two-judge divisions and the Court of Criminal Appeals has five judges.

Two specialized courts within administrative agencies have been established, the Court of Tax Review hears disputes involving illegal taxes levied by county and city governments, and the Workers’ Compensation Court.

The nine-justice Oklahoma Supreme Courtmarker is the court of last resort for all civil appeals.The Court has appellate jurisdictionon all civil issues, the Court of Civil Appeals, the Court of Tax Review and the Worker's Compensation Court. The Court only has original jurisdictionwhen new first impression issues, or important issues of law, or matters of great public interest are at stake.

Within the Oklahoma court system there are two independent courts: the Oklahoma Court on the Judiciarywhich monitors the actions of all judges and justices and the Oklahoma Court of Impeachment, which is the Oklahoma Senatesitting, which acts serves as the only court that can remove the highest levels of state government officials from their offices.

Federal court cases are heard in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma based in Muskogeemarker, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma based in Tulsamarker, and the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma based in Oklahoma Citymarker.Appeals are heard by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit based in Denver, Coloradomarker.

Federal representation

Oklahoma's two U.S.Senatorsare elected at large:

Oklahoma currently has five congressional districts. There were 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th districts but they have been eliminated.

U.S.House of Representatives:

Gallery of members of U.S. Senate

Image:Jim Inhofe official photo.jpg|Senior Senator Jim InhofeImage:Tom Coburn official portrait.jpg|Junior Senator Tom Coburn

Gallery of members of U.S. House of Representatives



Image:John Sullivan, official 109th Congress photo.jpg|John Sullivan, OK1Image:Dan Boren.jpg|Dan Boren, OK2Image:Repfranklucas.jpg|Frank Lucas, OK3Image:Cole Tom.jpg|Tom Cole, OK4Image:Mary Fallin official 110th Congress photo.jpg|Mary Fallin, OK5

See also



External links



Speaker of the House
Chris Benge
Republican
February, 2008
Speaker pro Tempore
Kris Steele
Republican
February 2, 2009
Majority Floor Leader
Tad Jones
Republican
February 2, 2009
Minority Floor Leader
Danny Morgan
Democrat
February 3, 2007
President of the Senate
Jari Askins
Democrat
January 2, 2007
President Pro Tempore
Glenn Coffee
Republican
February 2, 2009
Republican Floor Leader
Todd Lamb
Republican
February 2, 2009
Democrat Floor Leader
Charlie Laster
Democrat
January 2, 2007

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