On Monday, House Speaker Lance Cargill of Harrah stepped down from his office and announced that he was unable to continue the job due to various issues. He will continue as a State Representative, but I'm not certain if he will seek another term of office when his re-election occurs this year. I wish him and his family the best as they try to sort through the various problems that have arisen during his tenure.
There will be an election held this upcoming Monday to select a new Speaker. There have been several candidates that have announced their intention to seek the office. All of these candidates have different aspects that make them strong candidates, so it will be interesting to see which one is successful. This race, due to the Republicans holding 57 of the 101 seats, will likely be settled by their caucus and they will unify behind one person rather than seek votes from the Democratic Caucus. I would love to see a coalition Speaker be elected by all 101 members, but that rarely happens in modern politics. For most, it's harder to work with both parties to find a common goal over just appeasing those elected within their own party.
The office of Speaker used to be the most powerful political position in the state of Oklahoma. After the ouster of Jim Barker in 1989 and the passage of term limits, many younger members with no institutional memory and a great deal of ambition have been elected which has diminished the authority of the office of the Speaker. I have some of the longest-tenured knowledge of the House due to my years as a staff member before being elected, so I've seen many of the changes occur. Most of them have not been good since they have been politically driven due to no successful campaign finance or ethics reform.
One thing I will say is that I'm optimistic. Lance Cargill was known to be divisive and much like Tom Delay in Washington when it came to campaign finance scrutiny. Whoever succeeds him in this position has the chance to undo much of the harm that has been caused over the last year to the institution and work to bring about serious reforms in our first year of the second century. I promise you that I will do my part to help the new Speaker move Oklahoma towards a better future.
It is an honor to represent your views at the State Capitol. If you wish to contact me and discuss one of these or another issue, I can be reached at my office in Oklahoma City toll-free at 1-800-522-8502, or directly at 1-405-557-7305. My home number for work is 1-580-476-2626. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org at work. My mailing address is PO Box 559, Rush Springs, OK 73082 and my website is www.joedorman.com on the Internet. Thank you for taking time to read this column and I look forward to seeing you soon.