As you might expect, I watched the recent state primary elections with great anticipation.
A relatively balanced summary of the results was posted by Trevor Brown on the Oklahoma Watch website Tuesday night.
As Brown opined, “Overall, the results of last week’s primary didn’t produce a clear picture of whether frustration about the state’s lack of funding for public schools – something that brought out hundreds of protesters during this year’s legislative session – will result in a meaningful change in the make-up of the Legislature.”
In short, the public education caucus still has a very steep hill to climb.
In order to significantly alter the trajectory of this year’s campaigns, candidates will need to work hard to engage voters over the next four months. A large voter turnout is critical to overcome the potential influx of out-of-state dark money in order to win upcoming run-offs and compete in the November general election.
All three of the candidates with education backgrounds who faced an incumbent lost their election bids Tuesday.
Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, defeated Mustang High School science teacher Mike Mason; Rep. Charles Ortega, R-Altus, defeated Altus Board of Education member John Thomas; and Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, defeated Noble High School teacher Marilyn Goll.
Senate District 45 failed to attract a Democrat to run for the second consecutive election cycle, therefore Loveless’ victory earned him another four-year term in the Oklahoma Senate.
And this cannot be good news for men with facial hair in the Oklahoma City district.
“My opponent was open in his support of facial hair, including (Fu Manchu mustaches),” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, who won Tuesday’s primary. “I think you can consider (my win) to be a barometer of people denouncing this concept.”
Loveless continued, “I think this election reveals that our citizens are tired of this lazy habit on the part of our male population. They want their elective representatives to be conservative, white, and above all else, clean-shaven. Like me!”
Okay, I made that part up.
Loveless did not actually come out in opposition of facial hair after his election win last week.
As a well-funded, well-connected incumbent, Loveless did garner an anemic 55% of the vote against two relative unknowns: Mike Mason, a teacher with Mustang Public Schools and Houston Wells, a self-employed (unemployed?) business man with a whopping 36 likes on his Facebook election site.
Loveless earned 2816 of the 5102 votes in a district with about 15,000 registered Republicans. So, in reality, approximately 18 percent of Republicans in District 45 actually cast a vote for Loveless.
Hardly what I would call a mandate for much of anything.
However, that’s not the way Sen. Loveless interprets these results.
As reported in an article by Ben Felder in The Oklahoman and reprinted in today’s Tulsa World, Loveless believes his reelection to signal a clear message from the voters to enact Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) in the next legislative session.
“My opponent was open in his opposition to school choice, including (education savings accounts),” said Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, who won Tuesday’s primary. “I think you can consider (my win) to be a barometer of people supporting this concept.”
Uh, Senator…no we can’t.
This statement makes no more sense than my conclusion that people voted for you because they dislike candidates with facial hair.
And there is actually substantial research and anecdotal evidence to support my claim.
At the national level, when Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin sported a new beard as he announced he would not seek the GOP presidential nomination for 2016, political commentators rightly connected the announcement to his decision to grow a beard.
Who knows? Maybe Ben Carson would have won the Republican Presidential nomination if he had just taken the time to shave.
Here’s another fun factoid. Less than 5 percent of currently U.S. Congressmen and Senators have facial hair. In the House, 7 Republicans and 27 Democrats have facial hair. There are only two current U.S. Senators with facial hair.
Based on this data, it is clear that voters have a difficult time casting a vote for furry men. They apparently just don’t come across as likeable or trustworthy.
And Mike Mason doesn’t just have facial hair, he is a proud owner of a rather ample Fu Manchu mustache. Did he really think he could win with such a stache? He might be a great guy but he clearly did not read the research.
Senator Loveless, you are entitled to try to spin the election results any way you wish, and you certainly have. You believe vouchers and increased school choice is a swell idea and want to use this faulty logic based on a contrived voter mandate to push for their passage next year.
But, Senator, don’t blame this on the voters of district 45. You simply got 530 more votes than the other guys.
The voters of District 45 have not given you a mandate to pass ESA’s, enact additional tax cuts, install a ten commandment monument on all courthouse lawns, or ban transgender bathrooms. You are making a false and incomplete conclusion based on extremely thin evidence.
Maybe all they really want you to do is ban mustaches.
To be fair, Senator Loveless, you won your election by a sizable margin. Congratulations! I hope you take the time to truly listen to your constituents and represent them well at the State Capitol. That’s your job and the citizens of District 45 have entrusted you with their votes.
But, don’t make things up just to support your personal legislative agenda, or the Oklahoma Republic Party’s, or ALEC’s, or the national voucher wolves’, or anyone else’s for that matter.
It makes you look silly and shallow.
Like this guy:
“Mars is essentially in the same orbit . . . Mars is somewhat the same distance from the Sun, which is very important. We have seen pictures where there are canals, we believe, and water. If there is water, that means there is oxygen. If oxygen, that means we can breathe.” ~ Vice President Dan Quayle
A does not equal B does not equal C
That reminds me. I forgot to shave this morning. You might not trust anything you just read.
UPDATE: Just a few minutes after publishing this post, I received the following tweet from Senator Loveless:
— Kyle D. Loveless (@kyledloveless) July 3, 2016
Now, that’s just too funny, and I told him so. The senator admits that this picture was taken a year or two ago, but that through the year, depending on weather – he’ll grow a full beard then trim to goatee. Loveless says he goes “beard to no beard all the time” – it just depends on his mood and if he has a good razor.
So, I still hold to my stance that the fact that Sen. Loveless was clean-shaven during his election campaign means he has read the research on politicians and facial hair.
I hope he will be as thorough in reading the research about ESAs emerging from states like Indiana and Arizona. It’s not a pretty picture.
Plus, if Senator’s tweet was simply to point out the faulty conclusion I made based on the election results, I suppose that’s exactly what I was trying to say.