OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee visited Tuesday with state and local Democrats in Oklahoma City, hoping to provide a boost to a party that has been soundly defeated in Oklahoma over the past several election cycles.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida promised Oklahoma Democrats on Tuesday the national party would continue to help fund staff positions and training for volunteers and operatives, and she praised state party officials for getting its operating expenses in the black.
“When you have been rowing upstream for as long as this party has been in the state, that accomplishment is significant,” she told a group of more than 150 during a fundraiser at the Oklahoma Democratic Party Headquarters. “If we can quietly make progress here while no one is really paying much attention, then we’re going to be able to, over the next few cycles, show some people that change is happening in Oklahoma.”
Wasserman Schultz also said the national party is providing access to its latest digital telephone technology, including computerized phone banks. A former member of the Florida Legislature, the congresswoman said she stayed on as DNC chairman to Oklahoma and other states do the “nitty gritty” work like making gains in state legislatures and governor’s offices.
Oklahoma Democrats have suffered tremendous losses over the last several election cycles, particularly in 2010 when every statewide elected office previously held by a Democrat was captured by Republicans. Even though registered Democrats outnumber Republicans in Oklahoma, President Barack Obama failed to win a single one of the state’s 77 counties in 2008 and 2012.
The GOP also controls the House with a 72-29 margin and the Senate 36-12.
“We’ll be content with 101 in the House and 48 in the Senate,” said Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Dave Weston, who dismissed the idea that the GOP will be complacent in 2014. “We’re not content to just rest and sit on our laurels.”
Oklahoma Democrats agreed they will have to outwork Republicans if they’re going to be able to capture some seats in the House or Senate or perhaps knock off an incumbent in Congress or a statewide seat.
“We have to be more creative,” said Cathy Cummings, an Oklahoma City restaurateur and a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor who created video documentaries of her family living on minimum wage salaries for a month to highlight wage disparity.
Cummings’ opponent, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, has outraised her by a roughly 100-to-1 margin, according to the most recent campaign reports.
But Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins said his candidates are used to a campaign fundraising disadvantage.
“We’re not ever going to have more money than Republicans, but I do think we have more sweat equity,” Collins said.
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