Lt. Gov. Lamb praises Oklahoma firefighters, and Romney’s surge

Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, in a recent interview with CapitolBeaOK, addressed the recent fundraising successes of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and other issues.

He also effusively praised the state’s firefighters, both paid and volunteer, and touched on other issues, including workers comp reform.

Mr. Lamb noted the 2012 presidential campaign financing battle is already much different than 2008, when GOP nominee John McCain was heavily out raised by then U.S. Senator Barack Obama. 

Lamb reflected, “I think what we’re seeing here, some people … hedge a little bit. They want to be helpful. But then they kind of think, how is this horse really going to do in the race? 

“Once they see this is a very close contest, and that Governor Romney is doing well, people invest even more, they want to participate even more. I think that’s what we’re seeing in the fact that the governor has been outracing the president for recent months.”

Notably, $2 million of Romney’s three-month surge came from Oklahomans, and much of that from oil and gas company executives.

Lamb said the state’s energy businesses took note of President Obama’s reluctance to approve the Keystone Pipeline through the state: “We took that as an offense in Oklahoma that the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to the Gulf had not been approved by this State Department.”

The president’s widely publicized visit to Cushing’s pipeyard did not do much to alleviate concern, Lamb reflected: 

“I’ll let his campaigners and his spokesman decide on that — if it was any good, if it was time well spent. We always want to welcome the president, whoever the president is, to our state. The president of our country, after all, he or she will always be welcome in the great state of Oklahoma. 

“But for the photo op purpose, I think Oklahoma is a little too smart to know that somebody came by to give a speech and stood by a bunch of pipe, i.e. Keystone Pipeline. I think we see through that. … What we understand and we know is that we need approval from the State Department for that pipeline.”

Recalling his first race for statewide office in 2010, Lamb told CapitolBeatOK, “When I walked in my campaign headquarters, there was always a white dry erase board with my goal for the day. It was the first thing in the morning, like ‘that’s my hurdle for the day, that’s what I’ll have to do before they’ll let me out of here.’  

“Fundraising is a very important part of the business, because you can’t get your message out to people without fundraising, … as either an officeholder, a candidate or a fundraiser, or someone who advises other people in some sort of capacity.”

Lamb issued a policy paper this spring, a collection of policy proposals gleaned from town hall encounters with citizens in all 77 counties. He pressed those with whom he talked to name the greatest impediments to state growth and economic development. 

He says the top issues were, “Workers comp and workforce development, bar none. … It didn’t matter if I was in rural Oklahoma or urban Oklahoma, at a town hall meeting in a sale barn, where we had one meeting …, in public libraries, corporations – it didn’t matter where we were, workers comp was number one issue.
“Now, second was probably a tie between workforce development and tax issues in general. Nothing specific – customer service at the Tax Commission, or personal income tax or corporate tax, or property tax, that was a pretty wide gamut.”

Lamb said his thoughts in recent weeks have been on “the men and women who are either paid firefighters or volunteer firefighters. … Thankfully, we got some rain, Thank God, I mean that very sincerely, we got some precipitation. He sends it. I thank those men and women, and I’m thinking about the wildfires on the ground, all across the state.”

CapitolBeatOK interviewed the first-term lieutenant governor at his office in the Capitol Building in Oklahoma City.