Both sides sound patriotic themes

Tuesday, September 18th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Proponents of State Question 695 are drawing on the terrorist attacks in New York in an effort to get out the vote as the campaign enters its final week.

Right to Work for Oklahomans continued to run a television spot on Tuesday in which Gov. Frank Keating, No. 1 supporter of S.Q. 695, urges voters to exercise one of their most important freedoms by voting in next week's election.

Chip Carter, campaign manager for Right to Work for Oklahomans, said it is a tastefully worded appeal to patriotism.

The hotly-debated proposal would outlaw labor contracts that require all workers to pay for the cost of union representation. Opponents say it is an attack on unions and workers. Supporters say it is designed to increase economic activity and make the state prosper.

In the Keating commercial, the governor says it is important for every Oklahomans to vote, no matter what side they are on. He adds that he ``personally'' will vote for S.Q. 695.

``New York City will be having an election that day and we'll be having an election,'' Carter said. ``This is just one way to show a positive response to this horrible situation.''

``We tried very, very carefully to make sure it wasn't exploitive of the tragedy,'' the campaign official said.

Proponents of the state question have predicted they will win if there is a heavy turnout, while a small turnout will favor opponents, who are relying in part on unions opposed to the question to get out the vote.

Carter said the campaign is still up in the air and predicted the two sides will be separated by four or five percentage points on election day.

A spokeswoman for Vote No on 695 had no comment on the commercial.

The anti-S.Q. 695 campaign sounded a patriotic theme of its own at a news conference at a neighborhood grocery store in Norman, where several small businessmen voiced opposition.

Jimmie Marshall, owner of a Norman publishing company, said it was time for small businessmen, farmers and others to stand against ``the political agenda of a few'' because ``we are Americans together, erect, tall and prayerful.''

Meanwhile, in Tulsa, a Dallas woman who advises companies on where to locate plants and offices told reporters that not having right to work is costing the state jobs.

``I'm saying you're seeing 10 percent of the corporate moves you ought to be seeing,'' said Elizabeth Morris. In a previous appearance before Oklahoma lawmakers, Morris said that of her last 60 clients, 90 percent of them refused to locate in a non-right-to-work state. She said her client list is confidential.

Michael Baker, member of Fire Fighters Local 176, cited magazine and newspaper articles extolling the appeal of Tulsa and Oklahoma City to companies wanting skilled, productive and educated workers.

He said he believed the contention that Oklahoma is losing important companies is ``basically false.''

In Norman, the small business owners who gathered at the Midway Market and Grocery said they opposed 695 out of the belief that it would depress wages and lower wages, consequently hurting their businesses.

Corky Green, owner of a real estate company, said the proposal sends the wrong message about Oklahoma. ``Our priorities should be investing in education, keeping taxes down and building roads,'' he said.

Proponents dispute contentions that the proposition will hurt wages. In fact, they say, wages should increases because of competition for additional jobs that would come to the state.