Love to Hate — A Fair Analysis

There has always been a love/hate relationship between Oklahoma and Texas and it goes beyond the annual OU/Texas Red River rivalry. When it became a state in 1845, Texas had to give up some of its land to Oklahoma territory. That’s why the Sooner state has a panhandle.

A half-century later (1896), Greer County, Texas was taken from Texas and given to Oklahoma, after it was determined the Red River’s true stream was not the north fork flow.

A dispute between the two states in 1931 was over a toll bridge at the Red River between Colbert, Oklahoma, and Denison, Texas resulted in a war. The quarrel resulted in Oklahoma Governor ‘Alfalfa Bill” Murray declaring martial law and sending the Oklahoma National Guard to prevent Texans from entering the state. Murray showed up at the bridge site armed with a revolver. Texas Governor Ross Sterling sent Texas Rangers to the bridge to defend Texas highway workers. Eventually, the dispute was settled, but it is still known as the ‘Red River Bridge War.’

In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against Texas efforts to build a pipeline to import water from Oklahoma. The clashes between the two states are ongoing.

Oklahoma historian Bob Blackburn describes the two state’s relationship as a swaggering boastful big brother (Texas) clashing with an accomplished but self-conscious little brother (Oklahoma).

Three observations:

First, both states are growing in population.

Texas has grown +16% in population in the past decade — Oklahoma +6%. Many of those relocating to Texas/Oklahoma are fleeing liberal states because of politics. They seek more conservative, traditional values in their government. But a conservative Republican in California is often a moderate in Oklahoma and Texas. That could change the political landscape in both states.

Second, some are fleeing Texas.

Texas experienced a surge in popularity during COVID, which drove up housing prices by 30%. Many Californians moved to the Lone Star state because housing was less than in California. They didn’t factor in Texas’ high property tax, but many are moving back to Cally. Nearly 500,000 people have left Texas in the past two years. During that period, the state experienced a net gain of 200,000 despite those exiting. Many of those leaving cite the ‘too conservative’ politics in Texas as the reason they are departing.

Third, migration could change the two states’ politics/voting from red to purple.

Statewide elected officials in both states are all Republicans. The GOP controls both state legislatures. Oklahoma’s federal delegation (5 House/2 Senate) is all Republican. Texas’s federal delegation is mixed. It has 38 seats in the House and 13 are Democrat. The Democrats have gained 5 seats in the last decade. The Ds represent urban areas of the state.

Much like Oklahoma, the larger population area residents are not as conservative as their rural counterparts. Expect that trend to happen in the Sooner State.

Oklahoma and Texas have a great deal of shared history. They share a reliance on the agriculture and energy sectors in common. The two state’s political values and governing are similar. Citizens in both states love to hate each other in sports rivalries. The truth is the two states have much in common, including a real threat to their political identity from newcomers.

Georgia was once a reliable Republican stronghold, but today has four statewide Democrat elected officials. Oklahomans and Texans should guard their conservative values or they will see the same thing happen in their state.

NOTES: Note: Steve Fair is Vice-Chairman of the Republican Party in the Fourth Congressional District of Oklahoma. Steve’s conservative commentaries appear often on the CapitolBeatOK.com news website. Contact him by email at okgop@aol.com. His blog is stevefair.blogspot.com. CapitolBeatOK.com — an independent, non-partisan and locally-managed website — was founded in 2009 by Patrick B. McGuigan.