A story posted on Saturday, March 25, 2017 and written by Ben Felder examined the race for the chair of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.
“Our numbers keep declining and declining,” said Mark Henricksen, 62, an Oklahoma City attorney running for the state chair position. “Some would say it’s because we haven’t adequately conveyed a conservative message that resonates with Oklahoma voters. But my own view is we haven’t presented a true contrast to Republicans. Those who want to vote conservative say they will vote for Republicans and go with the real thing. Those that want to vote progressive say, ‘why would I waste the gas to go stand in line if there is no difference between the two?'”
Mark Hammons, 66, who also practices law in Oklahoma City, is the current state chair and is seeking re-election. Campaign manager Anna Langthorn, 24, is also seeking the seat.
But Henricksen said he’s become optimistic over growing crowds at union meetings, party events and the turnout at a woman’s march the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“I think there is an unmet demand for progressive politics in Oklahoma,” Henricksen said. “I think what unites us is income inequality and a belief that core state services are not being funded.”
Democratic candidates for statewide office in 2018 will no doubt build a campaign on the state government’s tough budget outlook, looking to grow support among those frustrated by school funding cuts, overcrowded prisons and a depletion of health services.
But economic policies might only go so far in a state where the electorate is deeply religious and supportive of socially conservative principles.
Henricksen said he doesn’t see a need to compromise on issues of pro-abortion rights, LGBTQ equality and marijuana legalization.
“I have not become a Democrat in order to be silent on any of these issues,” Hendricksen said.