Apparently not. Going back to the 2016 elections I was so disenchanted with my then-Republican state representative I went to the dark side and helped his same party runoff opponent, as did a number of other Democrats, because her record of public service up to that time was outstanding and his was so awful. I did that even in light of the fact she had little chance to win, gaining only 16% in the primary to the incumbent’s 43%.
However, let me explain why I took a shot. She was a longtime public school teacher and administrator, a community volunteer and active church member. Had a fine family and no boo boos of consequence in other segments of her well-lived life. When I met with her the week before the August runoff election in 2016, I handed her a sizable check from a fellow Democrat who also was repulsed by the incumbent. I even wrote her final ad and letter to constituents.
She promised to be open-minded to all legislation, not just vote the party line dictated by her caucus minders and, most of all, stay in touch with me because I might have something helpful to say after serving in both the House and Senate myself for a total of 28 years. At least she so indicated at the time.
Election night arrived; she won, by 67 votes, most of the margin coming from the Noble and Lexington voting boxes in Cleveland County. She won her home county of McClain by just one vote.
Of course, in November 2016, she clobbered the well-qualified Democrat because that’s how rural Oklahoma votes these days.
Fast forward now after her three years in office. Early disappointment in her party line votes I chalked up to being new, learning the ropes, etc., but as it continued I decided we should talk so, along with a statewide elected Republican official, I took my new representative to lunch.
It was a bit intense, but that’s to be expected and I also had her as a guest speaker in two of my Life Long Learning courses at OU to help her with the issues that are important to many Oklahomans like education, health care, public safety, Medicaid expansion; and also it provided introductions for her to politically active citizens mostly living in the two counties that make up her core voting areas.
Oh, I also wrote an occasional email expressing my growing discontent with her acting and voting like Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and Josh Hawley of the United States Senate rather than the former public school leader she once was or at least claimed to be.
Well, since I am now old, feeble and maybe not as linked-in as I once was to politics and policy in the state I love, I continued to come down on the side of forgive and forget about the increasingly partisan and downright stupid voting record of my new, my very own, state representative.
But no more. She has, so to speak, ripped the sheets with me and here are a few reasons why.
- She, along with a majority but not all of the legislative Republicans, passed a resolution questioning the fact that Joe Biden won the presidential election in 2020. Not her own election, mind you, but his. They were on the same ballot of course.
- I forgive her, I guess, for voting for every anti-abortion bill offered by the Republican men in the House, figuring she knew more about the topic than I do and surely they do. Of course, they were, and are, unconstitutional but I thought again, she’s new, and maybe hadn’t heard of the United States Constitution, let alone the one here in Oklahoma.
- She voted for every school bill that benefitted private for-profit schools over the interests, money and needs of our 545 public schools. That’s unforgivable.
- She voted for Speaker McCall’s HB 1236, his bill that says, of all things, that the Oklahoma Legislature can reverse, overturn, reject, ignore every federal agency rule and executive order by President Biden. And what about President Trump’s endless list of executive orders? All cool with her and her elephant colleagues.
- She never saw a gun bill that she didn’t fall in love with, including the one that would allow teachers in the first grade to bring an AR-15 into their classroom. Speaking of dumb votes about guns she’s all for no training, no license, no nothing for both open and concealed carry if you are 21 in our state or just 18 if you have been in or are in the military, national guard or reserves. Do you think it did me any good to tell her about a technical sergeant I served with, who was actually my firearms instructor, who murdered 14 of his fellow postal workers up in Edmond back in the 1980s? Just slaughtered them with semi-automatics and was such a good shot he was on the Governor’s National Guard marksmanship team. Nope, obviously didn’t impact her a whit. Maybe attending some of the funerals would have, but I now doubt it.
There’s so much more, but I bet you’ve had enough of this, just as I have had enough of my very own, personal state representative.
Oh, I almost forgot. Her name is Rep. Sherrie Conley of Newcastle, and since the Legislature may redraw the lines to mark districts for the 2022 election, she may not be my own, personal representative on the ballot next year. Well that would be lucky for me, for sure, and maybe for her because, unfortunately, Conley has the one personal trait that I have always detested among elected officials.
She can’t or won’t tell the truth, even over many years, on many subjects and unlike Jack Nicholson’s allegation against Tom Cruise in the movie A Few Good Men, I can handle the truth.
But I can’t handle the lies, so if somebody else out there also wants a new state representative in House District 20, let me know. I’ll buy lunch.