Friday, May 30, 2014

Pro-Lankford group's poll: Lankford 48%, Shannon 26%

From the Foundation for Economic Prosperity; the main pro-Lankford super PAC:

The following outlines the key findings from a survey of n=500 likely Oklahoma GOP primary voters commissioned by the Foundation for Economic Prosperity, Inc.  Interviews were conducted May 27-29, 2014, with 20% of interviews being conducted with a cell phone sample of those who could not be reached on a landline.  The margin of error for the entire sample is +/- 4.4% at the 95% confidence level.  The margin of error among sub-groups is greater.

James Lankford’s vote share has grown dramatically over the past month.
  Lankford now leads Shannon 48%-26%, with Brogdon at 4%, 3% voting for other candidates and 18% still undecided.  In our last survey (April 27-29), Lankford only led by 2-points (36%-34%).
 Lankford’s favorable to unfavorable ratio has grown from 60:8 last month to 67:6 today.  During that same period, Shannon’s F:U has essentially been unchanged (66:6 in April, 64:9 today).
 More importantly, among those who have a favorable opinion of both candidates (51% of the electorate), Lankford leads Shannon 61%-26%. Lankford’s lead is driven by the fact that he is being seen as the strongest conservative in this race and the one best equipped to take on President Obama.
 Lankford tops 50% with very conservative voters (51%-27%), with only 15% still undecided.
 By a margin of 54%-19%, voters agree that “James Lankford is the candidate best suited to stand up to President Obama and overturn his failed policies.”

James Lankford is in the driver’s seat at this stage of the campaign and it’s clear that T.W. Shannon’s allies have gone negative in an attempt to save him from not making a runoff with Lankford

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

OKGOP'S McLarty to Gov. Fallin: sign HB3399

Carolyn McCarty, OKGOP National Committeewoman, has penned an open letter to Governor Mary Fallin, requesting her to sign HB3399 (Common Core repeal) into law. McLarty also asks fellow Oklahoma Republican Party activists to co-sign her letter, viewable at this link. I added my name - will you?

The letter:

Dear Governor Fallin,

On Friday, the State House and Senate passed HB3399, the repeal Common Core, by a huge margin. The legislature also granted the emergency clause for the immediate implementation upon your signature so that teachers, students, and parents have certainty for the upcoming school year.

HB3399 answers the prayers and the wishes of a majority of parents and teachers in our state. It follows the principles of our Republican National Platform, the Resolution of the Republican National Committee, the Oklahoma State Resolution passed overwhelmingly in the OKGOP State Committee, and your Executive Order.

HB3399 codifies in statute your Executive Order to stop the over-reach of the Federal Government in our local schools so that we will not cede control of our children’s education to the federal government or private corporations. It also maintains that parents have a rightful place in the decision making for their child’s education.

HB3399 reinforces your longstanding commitment and declarations that Oklahoma schools should have the highest standards so that Oklahoma students are college and career ready and Oklahoma has a well-educated and successful workforce.

Now that HB3399 has passed, you have a tremendous gift to enforce the will and intent of the people. As Chairman of the National Governors Association, you have the opportunity at this moment to make the course correction away from Federal intrusion and lead all the states out of this very tenuous situation.

It is with thankful expectation that we Oklahoma Republican Party members present to you this request to sign HB3399.

Sincerely,

Carolyn McLarty Republican National Committeewoman for Oklahoma

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lankford endorsed by 4 Tulsa State Senators, Shannon by 4 OKC State Senators

In the past week, U.S. Senate candidates James Lankford and T.W. Shannon each gained endorsements from four metro state senators: Lankford was endorsed by four Tulsa-area senators, and Shannon was supported by four OKC-area senators.


Lankford's press released, posted on the McCarville Report:
Four Tulsa area state senators have endorsed Congressman James Lankford in his bid to win the Republican nomination for the U. S. Senate.

“I endorse James Lankford with confidence because I know he will fight for Oklahoma’s working families and small businesses during tough economic times, while standing up for Oklahoma values and the Right to Life at all times.”
Senator Rick Brinkley - District 34

“Oklahoma families have been presented with difficult decisions as the economy struggles to recover.  I know that James Lankford shares my belief that government should not make decisions even more challenging for our families, and I trust him to fight for lower taxes and responsible spending on behalf of Oklahoma taxpayers.”
Senator Mike Mazzei - District 25

“I’m excited to see the groundswell of support for James Lankford in our great state. More than ever, it’s critical that we send leaders to Washington, D.C. who understand what matters to Oklahomans because they’re listening to us and working on our behalf.  James Lankford will be that type of leader in the U.S. Senate.”
Senator Dan Newberry -District 37

“As a small business owner, I believe it is important to elect someone who will fight to keep federal agencies from burdening our businesses with massive regulations that are stifling economic growth and job creation in our state. Because of his managerial experience, his passion for our state, and his commitment to our hardworking families, I’m proud to endorse James Lankford.”
Senator Gary Stanislawski - District 35


Shannon's press release, posted on TheOkie:
Conservative Oklahoma state Senators David Holt (District 30), Kyle Loveless (District 45), Rob Johnson (District 22), and Ralph Shortey (District 44) today endorsed T.W. Shannon for U.S. Senate.

“Addressing our nation’s unprecedented challenges will require the kind of consensus we have rarely enjoyed the last three decades,” Senator Holt said. “Building that consensus will demand extraordinary leaders who can relate to the America of 2014. T.W. represents a new generation of leadership. He stands for common sense fiscal conservatism and free market values. He has a proven record of success as Oklahoma’s Speaker of the House. He is an Oklahoman, born and raised. He is a principled man of faith supported by a loving family. He has demonstrated his willingness to do what must be done, even if it makes some special interests uncomfortable.”

Senator Loveless said, “Having worked in Washington, D.C., and now as a state senator, I have worked with and known T.W. Shannon for over ten years. He is a conservative stalwart. He is a leader, he is a great dad, and he led the effort to ensure that those on welfare that were able-bodied had to work to get their benefits. As a small business owner, we need leaders like T.W. who have a background in business and who understand the burden the federal government is to economic growth in Oklahoma. He will be an excellent U.S. Senator for Oklahoma, I am proud to endorse T.W. Shannon for the U.S. Senate.”

“I have worked closely with T.W. in the legislature,” Senator Johnson said. “He’s a true conservative and a man of faith, vision and character. T.W. is a natural leader and we need him to bring that leadership and vision to Washington, D.C., as our next U.S. Senator.”

“I have had the wonderful opportunity to work with Speaker Shannon on many conservative issues,” Senator Shortey said. “Not only have I been impressed by his strong conservative principles but also by his leadership in advancing those principles. Whether it was by creating the States’ Rights Committee or standing against increasing bonded indebtedness in our state, T.W. has shown constant conservative leadership. I believe he is the conservative leader we need in the U.S. Senate and am honored to offer my support and endorsement.”

“Though still just a candidate,” said Senator Holt, “T.W. Shannon has already captured the imaginations of Oklahomans and Americans across the nation, and this is nothing for which he should apologize. T.W. possesses the rare gifts that make great leaders. T.W. Shannon is the man for this moment. It is an absolute certainty that he will be a national leader immediately upon his election. Our party needs that leader. Our nation needs that leader. Oklahoma can deliver that leader.”

“I’m humbled to receive the endorsements of my colleagues in the Senate,” Shannon said. “As conservative legislators we worked together in the fight to reduce debt, cut spending and reform welfare for Oklahoma.”

Monday, May 19, 2014

Updated Senate Polling Graphic: Momentum swinging to Lankford?


I've updated my Senate polling graphic to reflect the new poll that came out today. This make three polls in a row that put Lankford in the lead, with T.W. Shannon at basically that same spot. It would appear that Shannon's campaign has lost some of the steam they were building up, and that Lankford may be getting some momentum back.

(Note: the rolling average is of the three most recent polls)

Lankford up 43%-33% in latest poll


LANKFORD UP DOUBLE-DIGITS IN RECENT SURVEY OF
 U.S. SENATE RACE IN OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma City, OK – The James Lankford for U.S. Senate campaign today released a survey of n=501 likely Republican primary voters that shows Congressman Lankford with a double-digit lead over state legislator T.W. Shannon.   This is the second publicly released survey in two weeks that shows Lankford with a growing lead in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Tom Coburn.  

The campaign’s survey, conducted by respected polling firm The Tarrance Group, reveals the following ballot position:

Lankford - 43% (+10)
Shannon - 33%
Brogdon - 5%      
Undecided - 18%

Lankford’s significant lead includes winning among several critically important subgroups:

Habitual Primary Voters - Lankford +24
Seniors - Lankford +14
Very Fiscally Conservative - Lankford +11
Very Socially Conservative - Lankford +11
Oklahoma City Media Market  Lankford +36  (home of the majority of GOP Primary Voters)

The survey was conducted over a three day period, May 12-14, 2014 and has a margin of error of ±4.5%. 
The questionnaire was executed by live interviewers and included a representative number of cell phones. Lankford’s ballot position has been buoyed by his recent statewide television ad buy, and indicates the softness of Shannon’s previous jump in the polls following Shannon’s own run of television ads.

Congressman James Lankford, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, has been endorsed by conservative leaders including former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, Jay Sekulow, and has received support from fellow members of Congress including South Carolina Representative Trey Gowdy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Darrel Robertson posts campaign commercials

Darrel Robertson, incumbent 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin's Republican challenger, recently posted two campaign commercials on YouTube. According to the campaign, these will eventually be running on television.

First:



Second:

Friday, May 16, 2014

SoonerPoll survey shows Shannon trailing Lankford among Tea Party, conservative, and religious voters

Continuing the dissection of the recent News9/KOTV/SoonerPoll survey on the Senate race, here are some key questions asked in the poll. T.W. Shannon trails James Lankford among voters who are supportive of the Tea Party, identify as conservatives, and are more religious.

Do you consider yourself to be a liberal, moderate or conservative in your political beliefs?
Very conservative (39.3%): Lankford 41.1%, Shannon 38.0%
Somewhat conservative (30.6%): Lankford 37.5%, Shannon 27.3%
Moderate (21.9%): Shannon 29.3%, Lankford 26.2%
Somewhat liberal (6.2%): Shannon 32.1%, Crow 11.7%, Lankford 10.9%
Very liberal (2.1%): Shannon 37.9%, Weger 29.4%, Lankford 15.3%

Do you have a FAVORABLE or UNFAVORABLE opinion of the Tea Party?
Very favorable (29.7%): Shannon 35.8%, Lankford 34.0%
Somewhat favorable (37.0%): Lankford 41.7%, Shannon 35.2%
Unfavorable (13.9%): Shannon 25.5%, Lankford 24.6%
Very unfavorable (6.2%): Shannon 40.2%, Lankford 16.3%

Do you think the Tea Party has too much influence, too little influence, or the right amount of influence in the Republican Party today?
Too little (31.2%): Lankford 34.1%, Shannon 29.8%
Right amount (35.1%): Lankford 39.0%, Shannon 36.8%
Too much (17.9%): Shannon 32.4%, Lankford 26.7%

How often do you attend religious services?
Once a week or more (61.5%): Lankford 35.8%, Shannon 28.6%
Occasionally throughout year (23.1%): Shannon 38.2%, Lankford 28.8%
Just major holidays (5.3%): Lankford 51.2%, Shannon 38.3%
Never (10.2%): Shannon 44.9%, Lankford 26.1%

Thursday, May 15, 2014

News9/News on 6 poll: Lankford 34%, Shannon 32%

Oklahoma City's News9 and Tulsa's News on 6 commissioned a poll with SoonerPoll on the U.S. Senate and State Superintendent's races. The results are interesting, but still show a statistical tie between James Lankford and T.W. Shannon, with Lankford ahead by two points. This is the first poll released by an entity not tied to any campaign; the previous polls that have been made public have been commissioned either by the Lankford or Shannon campaigns, or by the outside organizations supporting them.


James Lankford - 33.8%
T.W. Shannon - 31.9%
Randy Brogdon - 4.5%
Kevin Crow - 1.7%
Jason Weger - 1.5%
Andy Craig - 0.6%
Eric McCray - 0.6%
Unsure - 25.4%

Survey of 580 likely Republican Primary voters, taken May 5th-10th. MoE +/- 4.07%.

You can view the full crosstabs here. There is some very interesting information buried in the results. Here's the update to my rolling poll graphic and average:

Updated April-May poll average:
Lankford: 33.5%
Shannon: 32.6%
Brogdon: 4.7%
Other: 2.9%
Undecided: 26.3%

SoonerPoll survey results by Congressional District: 

1st Congressional District
T.W. Shannon - 39.9%
James Lankford - 14.0%
Randy Brogdon - 10.9%
Kevin Crow - 2.2%
Jason Weger - 1.7%
Andy Craig - 0.4%
Eric McCray - 0%
Unsure - 30.9%

2nd Congressional District
T.W. Shannon - 40.5%
James Lankford - 16.9%
Randy Brogdon - 2.8%
Kevin Crow - 1.9%
Jason Weger - 2.3%
Andy Craig - 0%
Eric McCray - 0%
Unsure - 35.6%

3rd Congressional District
James Lankford - 37.3%
T.W. Shannon - 27.9%
Randy Brogdon - 3.4%
Kevin Crow - 2.5%
Eric McCray - 2.3%
Jason Weger - 1.9%
Andy Craig - 0%
Unsure - 24.6%

4th Congressional District
James Lankford - 40.8%
T.W. Shannon - 35.1%
Andy Craig - 3.0%
Randy Brogdon - 1.4%
Kevin Crow - 1.5%
Jason Weger - 0%
Eric McCray - 0%
Unsure - 18.1%

5th Congressional District
James Lankford - 59.4%
T.W. Shannon - 18.7%
Jason Weger - 1.7%
Randy Brogdon - 1.0%
Kevin Crow - 0%
Andy Craig - 0%
Eric McCray - 0%
Unsure - 19.1%

Granted, these results have to be taken with a grain of salt, as the sample sizes per district would have a margin of error greater than the statewide total, but they give a picture of what the ground may be looking like. I may post more later on the crosstabs, but if not, dig into them for yourself.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Robertson slams Mullin's H.R.863 vote

Robertson Chastises Mullin for Supporting a Bill that would Idealize Pro-Abortion Leaders

Following sending out campaign material proclaiming his pro-life position, Markwayne Mullin joined with DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz to support HR 863, which has been thoroughly opposed by the conservative Concerned Women for America and Michelle Bachman.

“Markwayne Mullin’s eagerness to flippantly toss aside his pro-life position to score political points with the Washington elites underscores why so many in the Second Congressional District are demanding change,” said Darrel Robertson, a local business owner and professional angler who is challenging Mullin in the Republican primary on June 24th.

“I stand with the conservative women’s groups who oppose the idea of establishing a shrine to Planned Parenthood and those groups that have supported abortion in this country,” added Robertson.
HR 863 was passed in the House last week with the support of Markwayne Mullin. The bill will look at establishing a National Women’s History Museum, a fine initiative, however, the proposal for the museum features a strongly pro-abortion version of women’s history including the idealization of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger.

“I fully support recognizing women’s history in this country, and I have no objection to the creation of a museum to honor the countless contributions they have made to this nation,” said Robertson. “However, I cannot support a project that will champion the pro-abortion cause.”

The website for the museum offers clear insight into the thinly “veiled objective” of the effort. While Susan B. Anthony’s pro-life views are ignored, Margaret Sanger is hailed as the leader of “the birth control movement” and a champion of “rational control of human population.”

“We are foolish if we believe that decisions made in Washington do not have a profound impact on culture,” said Robertson. “I’m a God-fearing man. I’m pro-life and I could not in good conscience support a national project that would teach the young people that visited this museum that abortion is ‘rational,’ that ‘population control’ is a virtue, and that Margaret Sanger is a hero among women for championing the abortionist agenda.”

Darrel Robertson and his family live in Grove, OK. A first-time candidate, Robertson has been critical of Mullin for breaking campaign promises, taking money from special interests, and backing measures that increase the national debt. Robertson has pledged to be a strict constitutional conservative and a leading advocate for term limits. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

U.S. Senate race poll numbers, visualized

I've put together a graphic of the polls published so far in the race for Tom Coburn's U.S. Senate seat.


Here are the numbers per candidate in each poll:

LankfordShannonBrogdonOtherUndecided
1/30-2/25418127
2/10-2/124717333
3/16-3/1737287323
4/23-4/2930.8323.51.332.5
4/27-4/2936346321
April-May average33.4334.752.1526.75


OCPA's top 10 budget recommendations

The Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs (OCPA) has some recommendations for Oklahoma's FY-2015 budget:


Below are the top 10 ways the State of Oklahoma can cut wasteful spending:

1. Enact state employee health insurance reform – $95 million annually.
2. Reform Medicaid to make it work better for patients, improve health outcomes, and save taxpayer dollars – $100 million annually.
3. Eliminate taxpayer funds for operation of non-core agencies such as the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, the Oklahoma Insurance Department, the Oklahoma Department of Consumer Credit, the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority, OETA, etc. – $20 million annually.
4. End earmarks including rodeos, roping contests, local fair, local aquarium, local festivals, and more – $8 million annually.
5. Eliminate special earmark in Legislature’s budget - $7 million annually.
6. Enact performance evaluation reform and hiring reform – more than $5 million annually after first year, $41 million annually after 3rd year.
7. Perform telecommunications efficiency audits – $3 million annually.
8. Eliminate duplicative conservation district offices – $868,000 annually.
9. Eliminate state funding for attempts at space travel – more than $394,000 annually. (More than $8 million in the last 8 years.)
10. Eliminate legislative funding for the National Conference of State Legislatures – more than $141,000 annually. (More than $1 million in the last 8 years.)

To learn more, read OCPA’s proposed state budget here.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Pro-Lankford group's poll shows Lankford 36%, Shannon 34%

A new poll, this time from a pro-Lankford group, continues to show that the 2014 Oklahoma Senate GOP primary is a dead heat between James Lankford and T.W. Shannon. This survey has Lankford with a slim lead, although within the margin of error (like the last poll with Shannon in the front).


James Lankford - 36%
T.W. Shannon - 34%
Randy Brogdon - 6%
Undecided - 21 %

Poll of 500 like Republican primary voters, taken April 27th-29th. MoE +/- 4.4%.
Conducted via telephone survey, with approx. 20% cell phone respondents.

Go to the McCarville Report for more on this poll.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lankford endorsed by prominent Southern Baptist leaders


Oklahoma City, OK – Three prominent figures of the faith community, Richard Land, Ph.D., former Pastor Bob Reccord, and Judge Paul Pressler, have selected Congressman James Lankford as the candidate most committed to representing voters of faith and protecting religious liberties in the special election for Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)’s seat:

"I can think of no one that I know in public life who would make a better U.S. Senator 
than James Lankford. I am hoping and praying that the people of Oklahoma send 
James to Washington as their Senator. Tom Coburn has been a great senator and for 
all the things that people of faith care about in our country, James Lankford would be a 
most worthy replacement." 
– Richard Land, Ph.D. 
Former Head, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission 

"I am proud to stand with so many great leaders in the faith community who see the 
same strength and character in James Lankford that I do. I can think of nobody better 
to fill the shoes of Senator Tom Coburn than James. I see in him the same resolve, 
tenacity, and thoughtfulness that we must have in Washington for such a time as this. 
We need more leaders of faith in Washington who are built with such a foundation that 
only comes from time on your knees."
 – Former Pastor Bob Reccord 
 Founding President, North American Mission Board 
 Immediate Past Executive Director, Council for National Policy 

"James is a true servant-leader who has stood strong for his conservative principles 
during his time in the House of Representatives. As a man of unyielding faith, I am 
confident that he will continue to serve both his Lord and his country as the next, great 
senator from Oklahoma." 
– Judge Paul Pressler 
 A leader of Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence 

Today’s endorsements mark a growing trend within the religious community to back James Lankford for
Senate. Pastor and former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and Jay Sekulow, an accomplished defender of religious liberties in several Supreme Court cases, have also selected Lankford as the clearest choice to lead the mission for limited government.

“Religious liberties are under assault by the federal government. No one should be punished for practicing their deepest convictions,” Lankford remarked. “Religious freedom should always trump federal mandates.”

Lankford entered Congress in 2011 after serving twenty-two years in full-time ministry. Most recently,
Lankford served as director of the nation’s largest Christian youth camp, Falls Creek Camp. His
accomplished role in ministry has earned him a well-respected status in the greater faith community.

Lankford has used his platform of limited government principles to lead the fight for religious liberty. He
stood in strong support of Hobby Lobby in its Supreme Court case to defend its right to exercise pro-life
principles.

“As the federal government continues to infringe upon our basic constitutional rights, then the clearest
course of action is to restore power to the states,” Lankford concluded.

This impressive wave of endorsements from influential religious leaders indicates how much the faith
community entrusts Lankford to take lead on one of its most cherished issues.

Tea Party Express poll shows dead heat between Shannon and Lankford -- Brogdon a non-factor

Shannon/Lankford in Dead Heat—Shannon Pulls Ahead in Run-Off

Sacramento, CA – Tea Party Express, the nation’s largest tea party political action committee, announces the results of the recent Tea Party U.S. Senate Republican Primary poll for Oklahoma.  The nationally recognized polling company, NSON Opinion Strategy in Salt Lake City, Utah, conducted the poll.

This poll finds T.W. Shannon with a slight, 32.0%-30.8%, lead over James Lankford.  In head-to-head run-off matchups against James Lankford, T.W. Shannon has built a more comfortable, 8-point lead over Lankford, while Brogdon trails Lankford by a 50%-10% margin.

While all three candidates enjoy strong support from Tea Party Republicans, T.W. Shannon has the highest favorability among self-identified tea partiers as well as likely Republican voters.

The statewide, live caller telephone survey conducted April 23-29 by NSON was of 400 likely Republican primary voters

Tea Party Express Chief Strategist Sal Russo said, “The poll shows the race to be very competitive with almost a third of likely voters still undecided.  Shannon has overcome the large lead held by Lankford in earlier polling, and he has gained the upper hand with Tea Party identified voters in both voter favorability and in ballot choice.”

Key survey question wording and results may be found below:

1)  IF THE PRIMARY ELECTION FOR THE US SENATE WERE TO BE HELD TODAY AND THE CANDIDATES WERE AS FOLLOWS, FOR WHOM WOULD YOU VOTE? (REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTERS ONLY)

T.W. Shannon  32.0%
James Lankford  30.8%
Randy Brogdon  3.5%
Andy Craig  1.0%
Kevin Crow  0.3%
Undecided/Don’t Know  32.5%

2)  IF THE RUN-OFF ELECTION FOR U.S. SENATE WERE BETWEEN JAMES LANKFORD AND T.W. SHANNON, FOR WHOM WOULD YOU VOTE?

T.W. Shannon  38.2%
James Lankford  30.2%
Undecided/Don’t Know  31.5%

3)  IF THE RUN-OFF ELECTION FOR U.S. SENATE WERE BETWEEN JAMES LANKFORD AND RANDY BROGDON, FOR WHOM WOULD YOU VOTE?

James Lankford  50.0%
Randy Brogdon  10.2%
Undecided/Don’t Know  39.8%

4)  DO YOU HAVE A FAVORABLE OR UNFAVORABLE OPINION OF: T.W. Shannon

Total Self-Identified “Tea Partiers”
Net Favorable  58.8%     68.2%
Net Unfavorable  8.3%     3.0%
No Opinion  14.5%     10.6%
Never Heard  18.5%     18.2%

5)  DO YOU HAVE A FAVORABLE OR UNFAVORABLE OPINION OF: James Lankford

Total Self-Identified “Tea Partiers”
Net Favorable  54.0%     47.7%
Net Unfavorable  7.3%     5.3%
No Opinion  15.5%     18.2%
Never Heard  23.2%     28.8%

6)  DO YOU HAVE A FAVORABLE OR UNFAVORABLE OPINION OF: Randy Brogdon

Total Self-Identified “Tea Partiers”
Net Favorable  15.8%     19.7%
Net Unfavorable  7.5%     2.3%
No Opinion  24.2%     28.0%
Never Heard  52.5%     50.0%

Friday, May 2, 2014

Coburn warns against renewed call for earmarking


Porky's II: The Earmarkers Strike Back
Restoring earmarks in today's Congress would be like opening a bar tab 
for a bunch of recovering alcoholics.

By TOM COBURN

Remember the $223 million in federal funds earmarked in 2005 for the "bridge to nowhere" in Alaska? The project stalled but the public outrage it sparked led to a 2011 decision by Congress to end earmarking. Well, it looks like the bridge-to-nowhere crowd is ready to get the scaffolding out again, with lobbyists and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle calling for a return to earmarks and pork-barrel politics.

The powerful House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) has called the ban a "bad idea." Two Republican candidates in Mississippi—Sen. Thad Cochran and House candidate Gene Taylor —are making a return to pork part of their platform. Meanwhile, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) recently tried to dismiss the bipartisan ban as a fringe, right-wing idea that has led to gridlock. "It was a tea party reform," Sen. Durbin told reporters in Springfield, Ill., on April 14 after a speech to Teamsters. "They came in and eliminated it and what they did is take the glue out of a federal transportation bill. That was the glue that held everybody together."

Mr. Durbin said he longs for the day "when we get back to the point where members of Congress are sitting down with a common goal—let's pass this bill, let's make sure there is enough money in this bill, let's find the sources of revenue necessary for this bill—you know, it creates a much better and more positive feeling."

The "glue" is pork and the "positive feeling" that Mr. Durbin is referring to is the joy of spending other people's money. For politicians, this sensation is highly addictive. It's why I called earmarks the gateway drug to Washington's spending addiction after fighting my own party's earmarks in the 1990s.

The porkers' core argument—that Congress needs earmarks to pass good bills that wouldn't pass otherwise—is ludicrous. Pork crowds out higher priority needs. On transportation bills, for instance, the Transportation Department's Inspector General told us in 2007 that the presence of earmarks meant members' pet projects were funded ahead of more important projects such as repairing structurally deficient bridges, which now number 63,000 or 10% of our nation's bridges. There is a higher chance the bridge you cross today on your way to work could collapse thanks in part to Congress's legacy of perverse priorities.
Members like to say they know their district's needs best but they are most skilled at putting their political needs first. Plus, we already have an institution dedicated to local projects. It is called local government. Transportation pork, in particular, proved that the good congressman or congresswoman isn't the one who sends money back to the state but the one who keeps money from leaving the state in the first place.

Read the rest of Coburn's op-ed here.

Senator Coburn and Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) are circulating a letter on Capitol Hill in support of the current earmark ban, and asking members of the House and Senate to sign on. You can read that letter here. Congressman James Lankford was one of the first to sign the letter.