Saying Governor Keating took his best shot at taking over the Legislature and failed, the leader of the Oklahoma Senate is urging the State Chief Executive to drop his confrontational attack style and adopt a more non-partisan approach to governing.
"Oklahoma needs a statesman, not the partisan attack dog we've seen for the past year and a half," said Senator Stratton Taylor, President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate. "Governor Keating's penchant for name-calling and his endless bad-mouthing of our state will have to come to an end if we're going to work together and move Oklahoma forward."
Governor Keating has been on an almost non-stop campaign against incumbent legislators since he took office, launching frequent personal attacks on them and raising thousands of dollars to help bank roll campaign attack ads against them in their re-election bids.
"Those kind of gutter tactics may work well on the East Coast or in Washington, D.C., but Oklahomans have consistently rejected them," noted Senator Taylor.
Despite Governor Keating's unprecedented campaign efforts on behalf of Republican legislative candidates, the GOP picked up a net gain of only two seats this election cycle. A total of 125 legislative seats were up for grabs.
"Governor Keating probably logged more campaign miles, attended more fund-raisers and attacked more incumbents than any other governor in Oklahoma history. He took his best shot at taking over the Legislature, engaged in the lowest form of partisan politics possible and failed quite dramatically," said Senator Taylor.
"I think it's time for Governor Keating to get off the campaign trail and try leading for a change."
Keating launched an especially vitriolic attack on two Senators in his adopted hometown of Tulsa, but both Penny Williams and Lewis Long were re-elected by comfortable margins.
"It's pretty significant when your hometown voters, the people who know you the best, reject your message and do the exact opposite of what you had campaigned for. I think the people just said 'we're tired of the personal attacks, we're tired of the smear campaigns, we're tired of the negativity, we're going to vote for the best candidate,' and they did.
"I hope that message isn't lost on Governor Keating," noted Senator Taylor.
The Senate leader pointed out there are many pressing issues currently confronting Oklahoma, saying it will take some skilled leadership to move the state forward.
"I know running Oklahoma down has become somewhat of a sport for our Governor, but it just isn't productive and it apparently isn't very helpful politically judging from the election results," noted Senator Taylor.
"I'm willing to extend my hand to Governor Keating, but only if he will agree stop the bad-mouthing and name-calling. It's time to stop campaigning and begin cooperating."