Thursday, November 09, 2006

Probably One of the Best Things From This Election

Roth elected to second term as Commissioner; Rice earns Senate seat

by Michael Bratcher
Managing Editor

Climbing atop the bar at Cafe Nova on Tuesday night, Jim Roth claimed a victory and a second term as Oklahoma County Commissioner District 1.

Roth, who is openly gay, received 31,301 votes -- 63 percent -- to his opponent, David Mehlhaff's 18,216 votes, or 37 percent.

"This has been an incredible experience," Roth told hundreds of supporters who packed the Western Avenue restaurant. "Just like four years ago, with the emotional ups and downs, a lot of you have been generous from the beginning; 1,100 donors, hundreds of volunteers have helped us get out a very positive message. We ran five years ago on some pretty lofty ideas, by opening the Oklahoma County Courthouse to all people of every walk of life no matter where you live, what you look like or who you love."

Throughout the campaign, Mehlhaff consistently tried to make Roth's sexuality an issue, claiming that Oklahoma County residents did not need to re-elect a gay man to office.

"I don't define family by just biology, and I know a lot of us don't define families just by biology, but my opponent does," Roth said during his victory speech. "We saw that this cycle, and we saw some of that last cycle. It's encouraging to me in Central Oklahoma -- in the state's most populous county -- that citizens have given the numbers they've given tonight to those of us who think we all matter."

Supporters cheered as Roth introduced those who helped make his campaign a success. He also publicly welcomed the county treasurer and sheriff who attended the watch party.

Also in attendance was Representative Al McAffrey, the state's first openly gay legislator and longtime friend of Roth's. McAffrey received his office during the primary election earlier this year. He did not face an opponent in Tuesday's general election.

"Jim and I have been friends for 20 years, and he has not changed one bit during that time," McAffrey said. "He's always been Jim Roth and always been a very concerned person about the needs of the people of Oklahoma County. We're very fortunate to have him in District 1 as our county commissioner."

Just blocks away, Democrat Andrew Rice received cheers and applause at his watch party after learning he had defeated Republican Joshua Jantz for state Senate District 46. Rice has been a supporter of the gay community, even participating in Oklahoma City Pride events.

"We can, if we take bold stances ... people like myself who are honored to be an elected official for the State of Oklahoma, we can really restore a little bit of that confidence that people have lost in elected officials and government, and it starts with just being honest and genuine with people," Rice told his supporters.

Democrats swept nearly all statewide races Tuesday. Gov. Brad Henry was re-elected to a second term as the state's top leader, and Jari Askins defeated Todd Hiett to become Lieutenant Governor. At the national level, Republican Mary Fallin became only the second Oklahoma female to earn a seat in Congress. She'll represent the 5th District, having defeated David Hunter and Matthew Woodson.

I truly endorse Roth and think he is one of the few that hold standards and morals in office. Of course now that I say that, some story will come out with him, a videocamera and some giant sling. I do not think if you are sexual with consenting ADULTS that it will affect your political career, but this is Oklahoma. Anyway, I have met him many times and supported his campaign these last couple of months and I am truly happy something really good happened. As for the democrats changing things on the national level, I will not hold my breath. Many of those democrats are more right than some of our electees and it will be interesting to see voting on issues on gay rights, women's rights, affirmative action, and the environment (which all suffered due to referrendums this election). Don't count your cookies yet. Praise Buddah.

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