Written by: Cornell L. Martin
Edited by: Annie Phan
It's A Scandal! It's An Outrage!
If you haven’t tuned into the news in Oklahoma, you may be surprised by the string of unforeseen political events, the majority of which are obscene scandals. These unrelated matters have prompted 6 special elections this year in the state.
We wrote about the sex scandal that re-opened Oklahoma’s HD-75 seat. Later, an arguably more nefarious disgrace opened another seat - the state Senate seat for District 44. Ralph Shortey, a Republican and former Incumbent state Senator for District 44, was charged in March 2017 with three felonies, which included engaging in child prostitution. He was caught secretly meeting with and soliciting sex from a seventeen-year-old boy while smoking weed. Shortey subsequently resigned. Ironically, he voted for numerous anti-LGBTQ bills and tried to undo the voter-supported loosening of restrictions on state drug laws by sponsoring a bill that would increase the punishment for possession.
Fighting for Oklahomans in District 44
The resolute Michael Brooks-Jimenez, an Oklahoma native, and immigration lawyer returns to contend for District 44 state Senate seat following his loss to former state Senator Ralph Shortey (R) three years ago. MBJ faces Republican Joe Griffin in the July 11th special election.
What does MBJ care about? He’s a collaborator. He wants to work across the aisle in support of stronger policies that will provide Oklahomans with a living wage, more resources for education and infrastructure initiatives, and support for economic growth through improved relationships with companies providing well-paying, skilled jobs. MBJ stated during his 2014 campaign, “[t]he No. 1 issue for people is education,” and that, “people are frustrated by a lack of consistent education policy. They want adequate funding.” MBJ believes “... restoring trust starts with paying our teachers a living wage, improving our schools, and creating high-paying jobs.” He also supports closing loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthy.
The 2014 race also saw the entry of an Independent candidate, Constance Fawcett (I), who garnered 6.5% of votes, with retention of Republican-leaning voters supporting Senator Ralph Shortey falling -5.64% and Democrat-leaning voters supporting Michael Brooks-Jimenez falling -.86% compared to 2010 results. All said, Shortey got 51.7% of votes, Brooks-Jimenez got 41.8% of votes, and Oklahomans re-elected Shortey. On the positIve side, Democratic voter retention was pretty good.
Yet, there are more than 79,000 residents in District 44, but only 10,000 or so voted in 2014. The difference between winning and losing in this district comes down to just a few hundred votes, so voter turnout matters ‘bigly’. I have more friends than that on Facebook. And, yes, that bit of comparison does make my brain cry. Especially because of Democrats, albeit centrist, once enjoyed top positions in Oklahoma until recently.
This year, there are no Independent candidates running, so it will be Democrat versus Republican, no spoiler candidates to contend with.
The Republican Opponent - Joe Griffin
Republican Joe Griffin, a former loser in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, District 92, 2016 General Election, is a former communications director for two Oklahoma Speakers of the House. Griffin runs on a “pro-business” platform, including fewer regulations that protect consumers and workers, and he is in favor of reducing taxes for the rich. Sound familiar? It’s called trickle-down economics, which we have yet to see success with.
He also wants to curtail citizens’ rights by eliminating channels to hold government and law enforcement officials accountable, he thinks social programs are “handouts,” and according to Griffin, “[t]axpayer benefits like government welfare programs for illegals must stop, and our laws must be enforced.”
What Winning This Seat Will Mean for Democrats
We urge Oklahomans to vote for Michael Brooks-Jimenez! Why? Because he’s honestly the only sensible choice. Plus, he loves exclamation points, and he’s not afraid to use them...in tweets.
Everyone can help out by donating to his campaign or volunteering. By galvanizing behind state and local campaigns like these, Democrats can take the crucial next steps to turn red states blue across the country.
So, get out there and campaign and vote for Michael Brooks-Jimenez. And if you’re not a resident of the district, but know a sensible person who is, convince them to vote Michael Brooks-Jimenez. They can add “saved the world from doom” to their resume. Kidding, not kidding.