By TEDDYE SNELL
It didn’t take long after Tuesday’s Presidential Preferential Primary ballots were counted for the Monday-morning quarterbacking to begin.
On the Democrat side, President Barack Obama received 56.2 percent of the Cherokee County vote, and 57 percent of the vote statewide. The perceived spoiler in this side of the primary was Randall Terry, who, by taking 18 percent of Democrats’ votes, may pull a party delegate from Obama. The Associated Press reported that according to Democratic Party rules, Terry is eligible for the delegate since he won more than 15 percent of the statewide vote.
GOP candidate Rick Santorum not only won Cherokee County, but he carried the state, garnering roughly 35 percent of the Republican vote. Newt Gingrich came next, with 31 percent of the county’s votes, followed by Mitt Romney at 21 percent. Statewide, Gingrich and Romney were locked in a virtual dead heat, with Gingrich garnering 27.3 percent of the ballots, compared to Mitt Romney’s 27 percent.
It is presumed the top three GOP candidates – Santorum, Gingrich and Romney – will have party delegates divided equally among them.
Local Republican Party Chairman Gary Gore was not surprised at the outcome.
“It turned out about the way I thought it would for Oklahoma,” said Gore. “It looks like the delegates in this district will be distributed evenly among Santorum, Gingrich and Romney, or one for each candidate in the top three. I don’t think Santorum will get more than one, and I think Ron Paul is out of the mix.”
Local resident Shane Perry registered as a Democrat when he came of age because of his mother’s party affiliation.
“I am, however, a die-hard conservative Republican,” said Perry. “When I went to vote, they made me vote Democrat, of course, so I did what any smart Democrat would do, since they didn’t have a box labeled ‘anonymous.’ I voted for Jim Rogers, because I know a Jim Rogers.”
Perry hopes Santorum garners the party nomination.
“Because Romney is just a ‘Mormon Obama’,” said Perry. “I would love to see Obama get ousted simply because he has put unto an extra $6 trillion in debt in just four years, when it took Bush the entire eight years to accomplish the same $6 trillion. I believe that Santorum can change things, and that Romney would just make it worse. We need gas to be affordable around the country and for more jobs to be created. Obama is only just now starting to get jobs created and I think it is just to get votes, seeing as how he has had four years to do it and only decides to do it during an election year.”
Gore believes a number of Cherokee County Democrats are conservative, or a simply fed up with the current administration, as evidenced by the challenge posed by Terry.
“I think there’s a good many people who would vote for anybody but Obama; we have a lot of protest,” he said. “During the month of March, they can change party affiliation if they want to have a say in who runs against Obama.”
The Daily Press conducted an unscientific, online poll, asking local Democrats who they planned to vote for in the primary. Of 131 respondents, 112, or 66 percent, said they would cast their ballots for Obama; followed by nine votes, or 5 percent, who indicated they’d be voting for Jim Rogers. Darcy G. Richardson and Randall Terry each garnered five votes, or 3 percent of respondents, and Bob Ely failed to garner any votes.
A few days earlier, the Press offered Republicans a similar poll. Of 216 respondents, Santorum garnered 81 votes, or 38 percent; Romney had 37 votes, or 17 percent; while Gingrich and Paul were third and fourth, respectively, with 35 and 34 votes. Twenty-eight respondents, or 13 percent, indicated they would choose none of the candidates, and one respondent said he’d vote for one of the three who had already dropped out of the race.
Local resident Jimmy Lang is supportive of Obama.
“Obama has done a great job and turned around the economy that Bush had totally destroyed,” said Lang. “He has ended one part of the war and is sizing down the other. He has taken out our enemies.”
Tahlequah resident Roger Graham is an independent, and did not get to vote in Tuesday’s primary.
“I feel that all GOP candidates will take away rights,” said Graham. “The GOP claims to be the small-government party, yet wants government to control women’s rights, government control of who a person can marry, and government control of freedom from religion. Romney, Santorum and Gingrich are small-minded control freaks, in my opinion.”
John Morgan, also a Tahlequah resident, sides with Graham, saying voting Republican could infringe on personal freedoms.
“Anyone who votes for Santorum is voting to take away women’s rights, gay rights and the right to use birth control,” said Morgan. “Anyone [who says] ‘anyone but Obama’ isn’t using their brain at all. Obama has accomplished more in his three years than most presidents have. He works for the middle class and the poor; he doesn’t cater to the 1 percent, unlike the GOP candidates.”
Tom Lewis, director of Project O-Si-Yo, the shelter for homeless men, said neither Santorum nor Gingrich are qualified to serve as president.
“Check the facts, folks,” said Lewis. “Both of these [men] have demonstrated they are not qualified. Gingrich was found guilty of crimes in the House, and Santorum is a single-issue candidate. We need the best of both parties to make the best choice for president.”
According to analysis conducted by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, approximately 5 percent of eligible citizens under age 30 participated in the Super Tuesday primary elections.
Combining the five Super Tuesday states - Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia – in which exit polls were conducted with adequate youth samples, CIRCLE estimates 88,000 total youth voted for Rep. Ron Paul, with about 88,000 who voted for Santorum, about 86,000 for Romney and about 43,000 for Gingrich.
CIRCLE data indicated about 26,000 young Oklahomans voted in the primary, which is 5 percent of the state’s youth. There were not enough youth in the exit poll sample to report young people’s vote choice.
Local resident Glenda Pate, who is retired from the newspaper/radio industry, can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t exercise the right to vote. She believes women’s rights are being targeted by the Republican candidates.
“Many people before us suffered degradation and sometimes even death to secure that right for all citizens of this country,” said Pate.
“At our nation’s inception, my gender alone exclude me from the right to vote – an exclusion that also included ‘slaves’ and Native Americans. I am a woman! I’m proud to be a woman! I worked hard in my youth, like many women before me, for my right to make my own personal choices, for my right to freedom of conscience, for my right to equal pay for equal work, for my right to be respected as a womean who sought to improve herself and the basic living conditions of her children when she found herself in the role of a single parent. I went back to college full-time. Do I think any candidae on the GOP ticket respects what any of us went through to secure a woman’s basic civil right? A woman’s basic rights as a human being? No!”