Support builds to include Independent voters in Democratic primaries and runoffs

To The Editor:

Strong support continues to build among organizations and Democrats to invite registered Independents to vote in Democratic primaries.

The Brennan Institute, Change Oklahoma, and the Brennan Society are on board, as are Governors Brad Henry and David Walters, Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Democratic State Senate Leader Randy Bass of Lawton, Democratic State House Leader Scott Inman of Del City, and Reps. George Young of Oklahoma City, Emily Virgin of Norman, and Shane Stone of Oklahoma City.

Individual grassroots leaders Susan McCann with Change Oklahoma and the Brennan Institute; and Ismat Esrar with the Brennan Society and Brennan Institute … all support the change.

New Oklahoma County Democratic Party Chair Joe Hartman and Cleveland County Democratic Chair Matt Caban favor reaching out to Independents, too. Both active candidates for Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair, Mark Hammons and Dana Orwig, have signed a letter supporting the inclusion of Independent Voters in Democratic Party Primaries.

Both announced candidates for ODP Vice Chair, Senator Constance Johnson and Dr. Earl Mitchell, Jr. also support inviting Independent Voters to join us and vote in our party’s primaries.

Bob Lemon, Fourth Congressional District Chair Joe Dorman, Second District Chair Chair Dennis Wilhite, First District AA Patricia Al-Sharif, and Cathy Cummings also support our effort to make the Democratic Party competitive again in Oklahoma.

Momentum continues to build.

Sincerely, Tom Guild

Editor’s Note: Guild is a leader of the Brennan Institute and Brennan Society in Oklahoma. The groups bear the name of the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Brennan. An emeritus professor at the University of Central Oklahoma and Oklahoma City University, Guild was the Democratic party standard-bearer in the fifth congressional district twice, in 2012 and 2014.

Congratulations for the political fortitude and judgment shown by a majority of the delegates to the 5th Democratic Congressional District Convention (Oklahoma, Pottawatomie, and Seminole Counties) in passing a resolution to invite registered independents to participate in Democratic primaries and runoff primaries in Oklahoma.

The same resolution passed … at the Oklahoma County Democratic Convention.

Currently, independents are disenfranchised under restrictive state law, and not allowed to vote in primary elections. That same law allows the party chair of any party on the ballot to invite independents to participate in their party’s nominating process. If given this option, independents who vote in the Democratic primaries can be contacted and strongly urged to stay with Democratic candidates in the general election. This will change the political dynamics and allow the Democratic Party to once again be competitive in Oklahoma.

The resolution now goes to the state convention, so a major hurdle remains. I would like for both active candidates for state party chair to announce their intentions on this important issue before the vote on May 30.

Delegates to the state convention should know where the two candidates for state party chair stand on allowing independents to vote in the Democratic primaries, since the person elected would be charged under state law with initiating that independent participation.

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