The Oklahoma State Senate was recently organized with a historic 24-24 tie of its members between Democrats and Republicans. The Senate, in a ground breaking move, elected Present Pro Tempore, Mike Morgan (D-Stillwater), and a Co-President Pro Tempore, Glenn Coffee (R-Bethany). The Senate Committees will also be governed by co-chairman with equal membership between the parties.

This is a golden opportunity for both parties to demonstrate bipartisanship and progressive thinking. To do so, Coffee will have to continue to acknowledge that it is different when you have the responsibility of governing.

During his tenure, when the Republicans were in the minority, all too often Coffee’s sole interest was in partisan politics and not in reaching out for compromise. For example, last year he was a stumbling block in the effort to bring forth a meaningful teacher salary increase that was guaranteed to every teacher. Coffee can begin his new role by demonstrating his commitment to bipartisanship through championing further teacher salary increases that are guaranteed. To do so would not only be the right thing, but would be the right start after Coffee’s performance last session.

The joint leadership situation can be one that will allow Oklahomans to be hopeful or to realize that politics will govern instead of leadership at the Capitol. Let’s see what happens.

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