OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla.: Dems gain turnout edge in primary

This state has voted Republican in big numbers for years, but the July 27 primary, where voters were selecting their candidates for U.S. Senate, House and state offices (not president), saw Democrats out-mobilize Republicans. A total of 352,782 Democratic voters showed up, a 35 percent turnout in a primary with no presidential candidacy at stake. The total GOP turn out was 238,377, or 33 percent.

The Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate is Brad Carson, who polled 280,019 votes out of a field of four candidates. Meanwhile, the Republican Senate nominee, Tom Coburn, pulled only 145,965 votes in a field of three.

As of Jan. 1, there were a total of 1,938,377 registered voters in Oklahoma, with 53 percent of that total registered as Democrats, 37 percent Republicans and 10 percent Independents.

CARSON NATIONAL FOREST, N.M.: Bush steps in for gas company profits

The U.S. Forest Service and the state of New Mexico had successfully halted efforts by the Houston-based El Paso Corp. to drill 500 natural gas wells on 40,000 acres of alpine meadows at Valle Vidal, public land right next to the country’s largest Boy Scout camp.

That all changed in 2003, when the corporation appealed directly to the White House. That’s when the weekly phone calls began to the Forest Service’s offices in Taos, urging the Forest Service to reverse its decision to preserve Valle Vidal.

On July 24, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson led a rally of area residents — 47 percent of whom are Latino families who have lived and enjoyed Valle Vidal for generations — hunting and fishing groups, ranchers and environmentalists protesting the corporate drilling in Valle Vidal. In an impassioned speech, Richardson described Valle Vidal as “a precious place that should be left as is.” The Boy Scouts have initiated an online petition, and residents have vowed to block the drilling.

El Paso Corp. owns the largest network of natural gas pipelines in the U.S. Over the past five years, it has contributed $2.5 million to Republican candidates and political action committees.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.: Dirty tricks, again, in Florida

When 200 new U.S. citizens took their oath of citizenship here June 29, an immigration official urged them to register to vote. Many lined up at a nearby table and discovered that the block on the voter registration form for party identification was already checked … Republican.

Linda Cross, who was attending the ceremony to watch her husband, Dario Cruz, receive his citizenship papers, asked the woman behind the registration table if there were any forms with the party affiliation line blank. She was told no. “We are a Republican organization,” the woman said.

Duval County Democratic Party spokeswoman Ann Farra said, “We don’t know if this is happening anywhere else. … Our other concern is, how long has this been going on?” Hillsborough County Republican Party spokesman Joseph Agostino said that his organization has been registering voters at citizenship ceremonies for years.

True to form, the Immigration Service described the protests and media coverage as a “flap” and said that changes in location for citizenship ceremonies would delay the process.

WASHINGTON: International observers to monitor vote

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will send monitors to keep an eye on the Nov. 2 presidential election in the United States.

Secretary of State Colin Powell sent the letter requesting the OSCE monitors over the objections of U.S. House Republicans, who did succeed in attaching an amendment that bars the U.S. from funding any observers. The State Department informed 13 House Democrats, who were pushing for United Nations monitors, that the Vienna, Austria-based OSCE would be sending monitors instead.

“This represents a step in the right direction toward ensuring that this year’s elections are fair and transparent,” said Rep. Barbara Lee of California. “I am pleased that the State Department responded by acting on this need for international monitors. We sincerely hope that the presence of the monitors will make certain that every person’s voice is heard, every person’s vote is counted.”

She told reporters that there is widespread awareness that the 2000 presidential elections “were rife with deception and fraud.”

ATMORE, Ala.: State executes 74-year-old inmate

On Aug. 6, despite protests, including more than 100 requests from across the U.S. and the world, a vigil by the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and efforts by his lawyers, Alabama executed 74-year-old James Barney Hubbard.

Hubbard developed dementia, cancer, emphysema and hepatitis while serving 27 years on death row. A state court convicted Hubbard of the 1977 slaying of Lillian Montgomery, 62, a Tuscaloosa store owner.

During the appeal process, one court noted that the Tuscaloosa police investigation into the murder was “unprofessional.” The police “cracked open a bottle of whiskey to steady Hubbard’s nerves so he could sign a confession,” said Hubbard’s attorney, Alan Rose. Rose believes that the irregularities in the case caused the long delay in carrying out the death sentence.

“Even if one supported the death penalty, it is difficult to understand what purpose James Hubbard’s execution would serve,” said David Elliot of the death penalty coalition. “This is a clear case for mercy.”

National Clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (dwinebr696@aol.com). Jim Lane and Julia Lutsky contributed to this week’s clips.