Discover more from Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning
What's right with Kansas can be right with Oklahoma, too
It’s a new world.
Perhaps Democrats, even Oklahoma Democrats, can break free from the old one, because on Tuesday Kansas gave them permission.
As you may know, an abortion referendum was on the ballot in the Sunflower State.
“Yes” would have allowed language in the Kansas constitution protecting abortion rights to be stripped, thereby allowing the legislature — a 28-11-1 Republican senate and an 86-39 Republican house — to pass the same draconian anti-abortion laws passed in Oklahoma
“No” meant the language could not be stripped, thereby leaving a woman’s right to an abortion and autonomy over her body codified in the state’s constitution.
You may know the Nos prevailed. You may even know it wasn’t remotely close, the Wichita Eagle reporting at 3 p.m. Wednesday a 58.8 percent to 41.2 percent tally with 96.7 percent of votes counted.
But here’s some things you may not know:
Though Laura Kelly, Democrat, is Kanas’ governor, and Sharice Davids, from the 3rd district, also a Democrat, occupies one of Kansas’ four House seats, it’s still an overwhelmingly Republican state.
Kelly isn’t governor without Republican Sam Brownback, her predecessor, running the state into the ground with such determination the Republican senate and house, trying to pull it out of the mud, overrode his vetoes left and right.
Nor, as mentioned, are those margins particularly close, very nearly matching Oklahoma’s 39-9 Republican controlled senate and 82-18 Republican controlled house.
That, and the Kansas legislature put the question on the ballot on Tuesday precisely because it figured a primary election, for which Republican voters have long shown in greater numbers than Democrats, would be the ticket back to Jan. 21, 1973, the day before Roe v. Wade was first decided.
It blew up in their face.
Impossibly, four years after about 467,000 votes were cast on primary day 2018, also a non-presidential year, about 910,000 (at last count) were cast Tuesday on the “No” or “Yes” abortion question.
More than that, this:
• Combined, Kansas’ Democrat and Republican primaries for governor have counted about 730,000 votes, or about 180,000 less than on the abortion question, indicating a huge turnout of independents who only voted on the abortion question.
• Despite 180,000 less votes in the gubernatorial primaries than on the abortion question, the total votes on the Democrat have reached about 280,000, or about 126,000 more than four years ago. So not only did independents flock to the polls for the abortion question, it mobilized Democrats in historic numbers, too.
That’s the data.
Read it again.
Let it wash over you.
Now think about what it means.
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It means every state house and senate election in Oklahoma in which no Democrat has risked getting their ass kicked is now a lost opportunity, because the abortion question changes everything.
It means pro-abortion-rights Democrats who’ve made it to the general election ballot, like Kendra Horn, who’ll be taking on Markwayne Mullin or T.W. Shannon for Jim Inhofe’s U.S. Senate seat; or Joshua Harris-Till, running against Stephanie Bice in the 5th district; or Mary Brannon, running against Tom Cole in the 4th, may hammer their opponent on the issue, ask why they hate women, come at them even harder when they get squishy on their previous position now that it’s become an albatross.
It means Joy Hofmeister, who may have had a chance already, now has a much better chance at making Kevin Stitt the most corrupt one-term governor in Oklahoma history, along with an entirely new line of attack that, until Tuesday, she might have believed would cost her votes instead.
It’s a whole new ballgame.
For eons, more Americans have been for abortion rights than against them, for women’s full personhood than against their full personhood, but as a political issue it’s been the opposite.
It’s been the only issue for many Republicans, mobilizing them to the polls while Democrats and would-be Democrats remained unmoved and lazy as long as the U.S. Supreme Court had their back.
Now, Rowe overturned, shit’s gotten real.
Presidential candidates have stayed away from abortion, Democrats rightfully believing it rallies their opponent’s base, Republicans believing it a fine primary issue but come November who needs to wake the masses on the other side.
Watch Republicans start to move to the middle, whatever that looks like, even in Oklahoma, where House Bill 4327, killing abortion rights and signed into law on May 25, passed 73-16 in the house and 34-9 in the senate.
Democrats can’t let them.
Republicans have made their bed.
They must be made to lie in it.
Our whole lives we’ve watched Democrats at the state and national level walk on egg shells, their position being, of course they respect a woman’s right to choose, but they’re not for abortion, as though being a proponent of women’s autonomy is somehow unsavory.
It has to be over.
One of the nation’s most conservative states just told you it’s over.
Quit playing defense and let the right quake, while those on the red-state left finally hit the red-state right over the head with positions long held but hardly wielded.
What’s wrong with Kanas?
What’s right with Kansas.
Run with it.