Monday, January 10, 2011

Pomp, Oaths And Bone-Chilling Weather

Photo courtesy Jamison Faught,

Oklahoma's newly-elected top officials took their oaths of office at high noon on the south steps of the Capitol surrounded by considerable pomp and burdened by below-freezing temperatures and intermittent snow and sleet that didn't deter a huge crowd that sat in place for at least 90 minutes. Musician Toby Keith stirred a tribute to the military with "An American Soldier."

Governor Mary Fallin, the state's 27th chief executive and it's first female, was last to take the oath, administered by Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Taylor. Fallin follows her late mother as a ground-breaker; Mrs. Fallin was the first female mayor of Tecumseh, following her husband, who died while serving as mayor.

Today's events mark an event unseen in Oklahoma heretofore: A slate of Republican officials, joined by Republican-controlled legislative bodies.

Fallin's historic election ushes in an era of Republican dominance that mirrors the dominance enjoyed by Democrats until the election of Republican Governor Henry Bellmon in 1962. Bellmon, however, faced a Legislature controlled by Democrats and he had no fellow Republicans in statewide office.

Dewey Bartlett, Tulsa Republican who followed Bellmon, faced the same situation except he had a Republican attorney general in G. T. Blankenship. Both were defeated in 1970.

It was during Republican Frank Keating's tenure that Republicans began to make legislative gains and it was during outgoing Democratic Governor Brad Henry's tenure that Republicans first took control of the State House and then the Senate. Those victories were topped by last November's sweep of statewide offices by Republicans.

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