On November 7 Oklahoma voters replaced labor commissioner Brenda Reneau, a staunch Reaganite, with Big Labor's preferred candidate, Lloyd Fields. This unfortunate development will yield unpleasant public policies for quite some time. Commissioner Reneau deserves our thanks for many things, one of which is her tireless advocacy for State Question 695, popularly known as "Right to Work," a constitutional amendment which gives every Oklahoma employee the choice of paying -- or not paying -- a labor union as a condition of employment.
Much to the dismay of Big Labor, in September 2001 Oklahomans went to the polls and approved the amendment. The campaign produced several great commercials urging passage of the measure, commercials featuring (among others) J.C. Watts, Frank Keating, Steve Largent, and Tom Coburn. But the best ad (in my humble view) featured an Oklahoma mom named Susie.
What a great ad. In a house editorial on the day of the vote, the state's largest newspaper praised Susie's "passionate commentary in a pro-695 television advertisement," saying voices like hers "are the proverbial salt of the earth." At the victory party an ebullient Frank Keating told me how great Susie's ad was. The campaign's pollster told me the ad demonstrably moved the polling numbers.
You would never know it by watching the ad (which took several hours to shoot), but Susie at that moment was pregnant with our fourth child and was experiencing morning sickness. I still remember the early-morning drive to Norman to shoot the commercial. Susie felt terrible. But of course she selflessly plowed ahead. What else is new?