All currently serving Democrats seeking reelection in 2014 have switched to the Republican Party. There are a number of reasons for this change. I have not talked with any candidates about their political beliefs, but it is not hard to understand why they will have an R and not a D by their names on the 2014 ballot. Also, in no way am I espousing or denigrating the platforms of any political party. Rather I will analyze our political reality. In full disclosure, I have voted for candidates of both the major parties as recently as 2012.
There are many reasons for why party politics have changed, including changing differences between the Democratic Party and the Clay County electorate, national and state trends, and the personal beliefs of the candidates themselves. First, the political beliefs of the national Democratic Party are likely inconsistent with the majority of the Clay County electorate and the candidates themselves. Social, fiscal, and governmental power issues have moved Clay County into the Republican Party at the national and state level for decades. The change at the local level, has been much slower, likely because it has not until recently mattered. Many of those seeking reelection in 2014 were elected as Democrats years ago when Clay County was willing to vote the traditional Democratic ticket.
My great-grandfather voted in every election from 1920-1984, and only voted Republican once, and that was in the unique 1928 presidential election. When I voted for the first time in 1998, a partially blind elderly man was wheeled in a wheelchair, shown where the straight party ticket box for the Democrats was, and he checked it. Those men voted Democrat, because of the South’s pre and post Civil War devotion to the party, and out of allegiance to FDR and the New Deal. They have literally and figuratively passed on, and so too the Democratic Party in Clay County.
Editors Note: Travis Childs is a history instructor at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla., and contributor to The Pioneer Sentinel. He is a graduate of Midway High School and lives in Bluegrove. He is currently president of the Clay County Historical Society.