State Sen. Andrew Rice makes his case for re-election
By Patrick B. McGuigan
Two years ago, state Sen. Andrew Rice ran as Democratic nominee against incumbent U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. Inhofe easily won the race statewide – but Rice was strong in the heart of Oklahoma City, the area he represents at the state Capitol.
CapitolBeatOK asked Rice if was comfortable about his reelection to the Senate with just under three weeks left before election day. Sen. Rice replied, “I have worked hard to be accountable to my district and to be accessible, and I have tried to legislate with a very independent mind. Because of this, I believe I have good support, across the political spectrum, from constituents in my district.”
Rice continued, “I am not using that as an excuse to take this election season lightly. I have been working hard, going door to door. I enjoy that part of my job, and I will be grateful to keep serving district 46 if the voters choose to have me do so.”
Rice has been busy since the Legislature adjourned in May. As he works for reelection, Rice is proposing new bicycle safety measures. In the legislative session, Rice continued his push to expand annual deposits into the Constitutional Reserve, better known as the Rainy Day Fund. Consequently, he participated in the process that led to the Legislature’s decision to send State Question 757 to the November ballot.
Encouraged to select the top three issues of the contest from his perspective, Rice responded, “Number one is certainly the budget crisis. If the revenues stay down, how do we make responsible cuts without devastating the core services of government? There is no easy answer to that, but we will have to ask less important functions of government to take deeper cuts in order to protect public schools and public safety.”
Rice, the Democrats’ Senate-leader designate, continued, “Finding ways to grow the job market and diversify the economy is number two. Government may be limited in its role to create jobs, but I am a big believer in the incentives we have used to bring in jobs like the recent ones that Boeing has announced.”
Rice said, “Number three would be to continue to push back against extreme social ideology that has no place in state government. I may be in the minority in that regard up at the Capitol, but I do not believe district 46 voters have sent me to 23rd and Lincoln to create laws telling people who they can love and on other privacy matters.”
CapitolBeatOK then encouraged Rice to make a brief case for reelection over Joshua Jantz, the Republican nominee. The two men faced each other in 2006, with Rice winning comfortably.
Rice responded, “I believe I deserve re-election because I have been willing to legislate with courage, regardless of whether my votes and statements are unpopular with either party.
“But I have also been flexible and open-minded on issues where I have allowed myself to be better educated. One example would be my support of certain education reform measures that some in party have disagreed with. But the voters of this district will decide if I deserve re-election, that is the beauty of our system.”
Rice engaged in dialogue, as well, on the broader state and national election, in which a shift in Congress away from Democrats and toward Republicans now seems likely, setting the stage for an interesting presidential election year in 2012.
He reflected, “I think we have seen reactions against the ruling party nationally this past decade, particularly in 2006 and 2008, and I expect to see the same this year against the Democratic party. Looks like Washington D.C. will have a two-party, balanced government beginning in January 2011, and ironically that could help secure President Obama’s re-election in 2012.”
He continued, “If both parties in DC do not stop their unwillingness to work together, then I am worried our nation will really begin to suffer the consequences. One of the things I like about the legislature here is that even though we disagree on policy issues sometimes, we do work hard to keep a level of decorum and respect between us.”
Rice concluded, “Some of my closest friends in the senate are across the aisle. We have our competition on the floor, debate our ideas like a sporting event, and then walk off the floor at the end of the day still friends. I don’t know if they do that anymore in D.C., which is sad.”