The 2006 political year opens with candidates filing this week but seven legendary names will be tragically omitted from state senate races including Claremore’s Stratton Taylor.

Obvious opponents for Taylor’s position will be Democrat Sean Burrage and Republican Ami Shaffer. Both are from Claremore.

Because of the quaint “term limits” constitutional amendment, six other titans of the Senate will join Taylor in the absence. Each is a Democrat. Republicans are not losing any senate candidacy opportunities because of the curtailing rule that was orchestrated by an oil baron who sought to eliminate experienced leaders of the Legislature.

With partisan control of the state senate within a single change in party ownership of a seat, the November 7 general election outcome will be historic.

The 100th Oklahoma Legislature was forced into a special session because the GOP-controlled House led by Speaker Todd Heitt, a candidate for lieutenant governor, refused to discuss a budget agreement until Senators first agreed to a draconian tax cut.

There are rampant reports at the Capitol that Todd will be replaced as Speaker before the special session resumes in mid-June. The Progress has confirmed the rumor with two Republican insiders.

Bickering between House and the Senate leadership surely would be less bitter with Heitt relieved of his leadership role.

While the House loses several members because of term limits, at this early date there are few who believe that Democrats have the money or message to elect sufficient numbers to snatch control of the House. However, in Oklahoma politics, the impossible is often probable.

In Senate District #2, now held by Taylor, the registration is Democratic by a 54 to 37 per cent margin. Nonetheless, President Bush carried Rogers and Mayes counties with 65 per cent of the vote.

Other state senators who no longer can serve in the legislature are Frank Shurden of Henryetta, J. Berry Harrison of Fairfax, Ted Fisher of Sapulpa, Cal Hobson of Lexington, Gilmer Capps of Snyder, Bernest Cain and Angela Monson, both of Oklahoma city.

Neither Monson nor Cain’s districts favored the re-election of George Bush in 2004 although the incumbent president carried each of the other districts. It was Bush’s so-called “shirt tail,” many pundits claim, that aided Oklahoma Republicans candidates.

This year, Bush may be a liability factor among voters. Even right wing U. S. Rep. John Sullivan has seen fit to attack the White House position on immigration.

Democratic candidates this year appear to have the strongest “shirt tail” with Governor Brad Henry leading the ticket and carrying a positive approval rating among voters of all stripes.

Incumbent Henry goes into filing week without a meaningful primary opponent announced. Scandal-riddled Ernest Istook, who is quitting the Congress where he lost his chairmanship of a powerful subcommittee, is the leading Republican hopeful for governor.

The quest for lieutenant governor is a crowded field in both parties. Unable to seek legislative re-election, Heitt is heavily challenged by other well-known Republicans. Hobson jumped into the Democratic fray where House minority leader Jeri Askins and veteran party activist Peter Regan (with Donna and George Nigh as campaign co-chairs) had earlier squared off.

No serious opponents have materialized for secondary statewide offices nor Congress. Neither U. S. Senator faces re-election. There is a fray expected in the race for Congressional District five that Istook is deserting.

The primary election is slated for July 25 with run-offs determined August 25 and the general election set for November 7 concluding the five months of intense political conflicts.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines.

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