Republicans Kick Off `Clear Majority' Drive

Monday, July 9th 2007, 9:16 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Republicans gathered Monday at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel for a fundraising reception to kick off their drive to take over the state Senate for the first time.

The GOP lawmakers also will celebrate Sen. Glenn Coffee's service as the top Senate leader this month as part of a power-sharing agreement with Democrats. The two parties each have 24 members in the 48-member Senate.

``Clear Majority in 2008,'' is the theme of the event, which is expected to draw scores of current and former GOP Senators.

``It's kind of a kickoff of the '08 cycle,'' said Randy Swanson, executive director of a committee dedicated to seeing that the GOP wins a majority in the Senate for the first time ever next year.

``We just wanted to honor Glenn and recognize the significant progress Republicans have made in recent years. He's pretty aggressive in helping Republican candidates. Obviously, our goal is to become a majority in 08.''

Honorary host committee members are U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, ex-U.S. Sen. Don Nickles, former Gov. Frank Keating and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole _ all former Senate members_ and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, who as lieutenant governor presided over the Senate.

Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said it will be a celebration of past and present GOP senators and the inroads they have made over the years, as well as recognizing that they only have to pick up one seat to have a majority.

``I think our chances are very good,'' he said.

Ivan Holmes, newly chosen chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, said he is not conceding anything to the GOP and will recruit top tier candidates to keep the Senate in the Democratic fold.

Under the Oklahoma Constitution the Senate can only have one president pro tem and Sen. Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, retained that position during the 2007 legislative session.

The power-sharing agreement however recognized Coffee as co-president pro tem and Morgan and Coffee made joint decisions throughout the session. The agreement also specified that Coffee would serve as the pro-tem during July.

According to an invitation sent out by Swanson's committee, the event is guaranteed to raise more than $100,000.

Thirteen supporters of the event were listed as ``statesmen,'' showing they had each contributed $5,000. The list included business and medical action committees and several individuals.

The individuals includes Kim and Bobby Stem. Stem, a Capitol lobbyist is a former Democratic Senate staffer hired during the tenure of former Sen. president pro tem Stratton Taylor, D-Claremore.

According to the invitation, eight PACs, associations or individuals each gave $25,000; 26 groups or individuals donated $1,000 and 16 gave $500.

The cost per person to attend the event is $60 and dinner is not included.