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Voter Voices From Oklahoma's 2014 Midterm Elections

2014 midterm election campaign signs along Jenkins Ave. in Norman just southeast of the University of Oklahoma campus.
Brian Hardzinski
2014 midterm election campaign signs along Jenkins Ave. in Norman just southeast of the University of Oklahoma campus.

In Sapulpa, Kathy Sampson, 67, of Bristow, a grandmother of four, said she voted a Republican ticket that included a ballot for Joy Hofmeister for state school superintendent.

"She's a Republican, and they needed to get (Janet) Barresi out of there without question, and Hofmeister can do it."

Sampson said she voted for U.S. Rep. James Lankford for senator because she liked his TV commercials and that he is a Baptist.

"I'm also a Baptist, and he's a Republican," Sampson said.

Also voting a Republican ticket in Sapulpa was Clint Stoddard, 67, of Bristow, who said he believes Lankford will come closest to filling the shoes of Sen. Tom Coburn, who is retiring.

"He'd be the best of the two," Stoddard said.

In Drumright, Luann Branch, 83, a retired educator who said she is an independent and voted for Fallin, despite not being pleased with the choices.

"I'll be glad when she'll be gone," Branch said. "I didn't like either of the candidates. The Republicans in Oklahoma have messed up enough."

Branch also voted for Lankford, saying she liked the way he questioned a witness during a televised committee hearing, and his voice.

"When you have that kind of voice and those brains, you're going to get something done."

In Cushing, retired teacher Bob Wicker, 68, said he voted Democratic, selecting Dorman over Fallin for governor and state Sen. Connie Johnson, who has served 10 years in the Senate, over Lankford, a two-term member of the U.S. House, in the U.S. Senate campaign.

"What is this man's experience? He was the leader of a Baptist camp? That was his experience before?"

Verlin Yenzer, 71, of Cushing said he also voted for Democrats, casting his ballots for Dorman, Johnson and John Cox in the school superintendent's race.

"This state needs to go and find the Democrats. I think they're here," said Yenzer, a teacher and operator of a drug and alcohol treatment center.

In Sapulpa, Angie Wilson, 37, said she voted for Gov. Mary Fallin, despite disappointment with the governor's performance, especially on education issues.

"Unfortunately, I voted for Mary Fallin," Wilson said. "She let us down on Common Core."

In Oklahoma City, Larry Augustus, 52, said he voted for Republican Steve Russell for the 5th Congressional District seat over Democratic state Sen. Al McAffrey and three independent candidates.

"I think he'll do an excellent job," said Augustus, who operates a stone fabrication business.

Augustus said Russell's military background played a role in his choice to fill the open congressional seat. Russell is a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose career culminated with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He wrote the book, "We Got Him," about his unit's role in the hunt for and capture of Saddam Hussein and is a frequent speaker at events across the nation.

"His credentials, I think, are very sound," Augustus said.

David Lovez, 68, a retiree from Moore, said he voted for Democrat Matt Silverstein in his bid to upset Republican Jim Inhofe in the race for a full term in the U.S. Senate.

"I didn't like that Inhofe wouldn't debate him (Silverstein)," Lovez said after casting his ballot at the Providence Church in Moore. "That bothered me."

Lovez also said he voted for Johnson in the other U.S. Senate race, but added: "I think that Lankford also has some good ideas."

Lovez's wife, Jane, 67, said she also voted for Johnson.

"She's a Democrat. She always spoke her mind. And she's a woman," Jane Lovez said.

Sherry Clark, 60, a ministry volunteer from Moore, said her opposition to abortion was the reason she supported Lankford in the U.S. Senate race.

"I know that he strongly opposes abortion," Clark said.

Clark said she couldn't vote for Fallin because of the increase in the number of state prisoners that has occurred during Fallin's administration, so she cast her ballot for independent Richard Prawdzienski in the governor's race.

Earl Stamps, 70, a retiree from rural Cleveland County, said he voted for Lankford because he was impressed with how he conducted himself during his two terms in the U.S. House.

"I just think he's represented us well," Stamps said.

Stamps said he also voted for Fallin in the governor's race and Hofmeister for state superintendent.

"I've followed Mary Fallin's career, so I've always been a backer of hers," Stamps said.

Neil McGuffee, 60, an attorney from Moore, said he voted for Dorman for governor and Johnson for U.S. Senate mostly because they were Democrats.

"Nothing in particular about Dorman really impresses me," McGuffee said.

McGuffee said he voted more out of a sense of civic duty, not because he expected the Democratic candidates he supported to win.

"We all know Republicans are going to win here," McGuffee said.

Following are comments from voters who cast early ballots on Thursday at election board offices in Oklahoma and Cleveland County.

Carolyn Montgomery, 85, of Norman, said she voted for Lankford because she was impressed with how he handled himself during his two terms in the U.S. House.

"He didn't have much political experience when he was first elected (in 2010), but sometimes I think that's better," said Montgomery, a retired schoolteacher. "He doesn't seem to have that Washington attitude, and that's a good thing."

Montgomery said she also supported Republican U.S. Rep Tom Cole and Gov. Mary Fallin.

"I like Tom Cole's attitude and what's he's done in Congress," Montgomery said. "Goodness knows, we need some commonsense in Washington."

"I voted for Mary Fallin. I like some of what she's done and I don't like some of the things she's done. I guess you can expect that with anyone."

Suzanne Robinson, a 73-year-old retired nurse from Oklahoma City, said she voted for Dorman in the governor's race because she felt Fallin was disrespectful toward President Barack Obama.

"Saying things like she's going to hold his feet to the fire ... I didn't like her tone toward President Obama," Robinson said after casting her ballot at the Oklahoma County Election Board. "I'd like to send her home to retire."

Robinson also said she's met Dorman on a couple of occasions and found that he had an everyman quality that she can relate to.

"To me, he just seems like a down-to-earth guy," Robinson said. "The governor we have now is not a people person."

Robinson also said she voted for Democrat Johnson in her bid for the U.S. Senate, even though she said she didn't agree with Johnson's support of legalized marijuana.

"The one thing I didn't like was her support of marijuana, but I'm not going to hold that against her," Robinson said.

Helen Rainey, 78, of Norman, said she's a longtime registered Democrat who voted for all Republican candidates because she's frustrated with President Barack Obama.

"I looked at the candidates, and the Republicans, 99 percent of the time they see things the way I do," Rainey said after casting her ballot at the Cleveland County Election Board in Norman. "There's no common sense in the Democratic Party anymore.

"I don't know how else to send a message to Washington other than to vote for all Republicans."

Rainey said she thought Lankford's television ads were effective.

"I liked the fact that he seemed to know what the people needed," she said.

Rainey also praised Fallin because "she opposed Obamacare, and I like that."

Jim Chapman, 67, a retired accountant from Norman, said he preferred mostly Democratic candidates.

He said he voted for the Democrat, Johnson, in the U.S. Senate race and agreed with her support of abortion rights, legalizing marijuana and sending fewer Oklahoma criminals to prison.

"Those sound like good ideas to me," Chapman said.

Chapman said he voted for Democrat Joe Dorman for governor.

"I just like the guy," Chapman said. "And I think Mary Fallin has failed the state."

"We've got grandchildren, and I'm concerned about education, and I feel that she really let the state down when it comes to education."

Chapman said he voted for Democrat Silverstein over Republican Inhofe in the other U.S. Senate race.

"It was more of an anti-Inhofe vote," Chapman said. "I feel Inhofe is well past his time of serving our state. I think he's a good man, but I think there comes a time in every man's life to retire. He's well past that."

In the race for U.S. House seat in Oklahoma City being vacated by Lankford, 56-year-old retired attorney Mary Tidholm of Oklahoma City said she preferred Republican Steve Russell, a former state senator and Army combat veteran.

"I like that he's for reducing government involvement in our lives," Tidholm said. "I like his sincerity. I think he says what he means."

Tidholm also said she supported Fallin in the governor's race.

"I think she's done a good job," Tidholm said of the governor.

Jay Breithaupt, a 76-year-old independent from Edmond, voiced frustration with Oklahoma's closed primary system that allows only registered Republicans and Democrats to vote in each party's primary election.

"I've got a problem with the closed primary," said Breithaupt, who said he switched to independent a decade ago after getting upset with both parties.

Mike Bailey, 62, from Choctaw, said he voted for Fallin for governor because "she keeps Oklahoma values in mind."

Bailey also said he liked Lankford in the U.S. Senate race.

"I think it's his integrity," Bailey said.

Bailey also said he voted to return U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe for another six-year term.

"I trust him, trust his values," Bailey said. "Plus, I used to live in Tulsa, and he's a Tulsa boy."

Jerry Pendley, a 62-year-old state worker from Moore, voted for Dorman because he says Fallin has been slow to give state workers a pay raise and cut some agency budgets.

"I voted for Dorman because he's not afraid to not cut taxes for the richest people out there," Pendley said.

Pendley said Fallin's efforts to cut the state's top income tax rate unfairly benefits the wealthy and says he'd rather see that money used to improve education or the state's roads and bridges.

"That tax cut doesn't help me at all," Pendley said. "The working man's not getting a deal on anything."

Pendley said he also preferred Democrat John Cox over Republican Joy Hofmeister in the race for superintendent of public instruction.

"I didn't hear much about him other than he was the superintendent of a small school, but at least he's a superintendent," Pendley said.


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