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Why I Will Be Voting for One Democrat

In my entire life, I’ve never voted for a Democrat. Longtime readers of my blog know of my disdain for Democrats and their policies. I have always maintained the position that even voting for moderate Democrats in local and state elections lends support to the Democrats on the national level, where the more hardcore and socialist Democrats are found. All that said, I will be voting for a Democrat next Tuesday, November 6th. One Democrat and one only.

For an explanation, we need to briefly revisit a battle in the Oklahoma state legislature over the last year. Republicans, who hold the majority in both the House and the Senate, fought to raise taxes. No, that wasn’t a typo; Republicans wanted to raise taxes. I detailed this in an appropriately titled post I wrote back in February called I May Have to Start Voting  Democrat. The House, led by Speaker Charles McCall, passed massive tax increases after blowing off any thoughts of fiscal responsibility and disciplined budget practices. State agencies want more money? No problem; we’ll just increase taxes and never mind asking what these agencies are doing with the tax dollars they’re already spending.

There were a few holdouts who voted no on the tax increases, including my own representative in House District 101, Tess Teague. All but one of the holdouts were ousted from office in the June Republican primary and the runoffs in late August.

It’s come out after the elections that not only were some Republicans openly supporting Democrats but others were actively working behind the scenes to get some of their fellow Republicans removed from office. And which Republicans did they want gone? Why, the ones who voted no on raising taxes, of course.

My representative, Tess Teague, lost to Robert Manger, a retired U.S. Marshal, who was recruited by House leadership to run against Teague. Tess did have her problems and I was unhappy with her votes on several bills, but she was a solid NO vote on tax increases. Her reasoning, which she state publicly, was that the majority of her district did not support increasing taxes and wanted her to vote no. Imagine that, listening to her constituents instead of House leadership! Why, the nerve! So, Tess had to go.

Teague and Manger had a runoff election at the end of August and in the weeks leading up to it, the campaign mailer hit my mailbox on an almost daily basis. Always, they slammed Teague for this or that, some of which she did bring on herself with some poor behavioral decisions. These mailers were always funded by ‘Conservative Alliance PAC’ in Washington, D.C., a PAC that inserted itself in many state races in Oklahoma, Ohio, and other states. To this day, no one knows who the money is behind this group or what their agenda is, but they obviously targeted conservative state legislators.

And what of Manger? Why should we have voted for him? All that was said about him was essentially – retired U.S. Marshal, family man, etc. Not one word about his positions. Not one word about his thoughts on the tax increase battle. Not one word about his ideas for the legislature. Not one word about anything at all, except – retired U.S. Marshal, family man.

He never responded to emails. He avoided answering questions. Many people on the HD 101 Facebook forum complained about this and his lack of engaging the constituency. It was as if he didn’t want anyone to know anything about his politics. It came out at one point that he had supposedly been a Democrat for years, but changed his registration to run against Teague. Was it true? No one got the chance to ask him.

Earlier this month the Mid-Del Association of Classroom Teachers held a candidate forum for House districts 95 and 101. Manger was the only no-show. The Democratic candidate for 101, John Carpenter, shared this picture, which is symbolic of Manger’s entire campaign.

One woman did manage to locate Manger and get him to answer a few questions for her, but he left before answering all of them. The answers he did give to some of the questions are most telling. Note – These are not my questions and I am editing them slightly for length. These questions and answers were shared on Facebook.

Robert Manger John Carpenter
Do you support lowering the legislative requirement to 60% for raising taxes? I am willing to look at that. Yes. Might support changing pass/repeal taxes at 67%.
Do you support reintroducing the hotel/motel tax as a percentage? Oh yes! I can support hotel/motel tax as a percentage.
Do you support removing the capital gains exemption (except for agriculture?) No. I’m not looking to do away with capital gains. Yes. This can be a way to increase revenue for our state.
How do you feel about restoring the 2014 tax cuts back to 5.25%? That would be difficult to achieve. It would be worth looking at. Yes.
Oklahoma has cut its top income tax rate by nearly 25% since 2004. Do you believe this has contributed to our chronic budget shortfall and do you support restoring the top income tax rate on very high-income earners? Cuts have contributed to chronic budget shortfall. Further research needed to address that 25% tax cut. Absolutely!
Oklahoma is the 3rd highest in the nation for the percentage of people who don’t have health insurance. Do you support accepting federal dollars to help more Oklahomans gain health insurance by expanding Medicaid? Yes. Definitely!
What are your options for raising revenue? Look at reform. Oil and gas is not enough to fund our state. Maybe we should institute an office of budget. All things should be subject to review. Raise income tax for the uppermost 20%. Repeal capital gains tax. Raise GPT to at least 7% (9% would be a better starting point.) Bring back the hotel/motel tax. Tax money from medical marijuana. Stop tax breaks for big business.

Clearly, Manger is not opposed to increasing taxes, which is exactly why the House leadership wants him. Say what you will about Tess Teague, but she was no lackey for the House leadership.

And that brings me to John Carpenter, the Democrat in the House 101 election.

Mr. Carpenter has made what I consider to be a valiant effort to engage with the district constituency. He has an active Facebook page and uses it to share information about his views, answer questions, and communicate with others. He has written ‘white papers’ detailing his views on issues affecting Oklahoma. He hasn’t ditched candidate forums. He has so much information out there that I learned more about John Carpenter’s views in five minutes than I’ve been able to find out about Robert Manger’s in six months.

It’s quite evident to me that Mr. Carpenter would be a representative for HD 101 who is beholden to no one but the residents of the district. House leadership will not own him or his vote. He also seems very willing to connect with residents and I have no doubt at all that I could easily arrange a conversation with him in person or on the phone, should I ever wish to.

Yes, John Carpenter is a liberal whose ideas I mostly oppose. But the same appears to be true for Robert Manger. One of these two men will be my representative for the next two years and perhaps longer. I am hoping a truly conservative candidate will run in 2020 who will actually represent the residents of HD 101 instead of being a yes vote for the House leadership. But for now, I have to choose between Manger and Carpenter. I choose the one who will listen to those he represents instead of hiding from them. I choose the one who isn’t on a leash tied to a stake in the Speaker’s office. I choose John Carpenter.

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