By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
Oklahoma House District 14 contenders attempted to distinguish themselves from each other Thursday during a meeting with the Muskogee Phoenix editorial board.
Republican contender Arthur Hulbert and Jerry Rains, who won the Democratic nomination in four-way race, agree in many respects on a legislative agenda and even on social issues. When it comes to public education, tax cuts and economic development, there is little light separating the two.
The difference between the two candidates, however, became more evident when they began discussing the ways they would govern.
Hulbert said he is pro-life, opposes same-sex marriages and supports governmental efforts to prevent “recent attacks on biblical values.” Rains embraced those same values.
“Like Arthur, I am also a Christian — I don’t believe in abortion, I believe marriage should be between a man and a woman, and I also believe in guns ... but I won’t push the way I live and the way I feel on someone else,” Rains said. “They have a right to make their own decisions, and it’s not for one person to say to another person, ‘You are living your life wrong.’ I won’t do that.”
Hulbert, on the other hand, sees no problem with legislating morality. During a previous meeting with the editorial board, Hulbert said Christian principles and morals provide a firm foundation for the country.
“Our government, since it’s inception, has legislated morality,” Hulbert said in August, citing laws prohibiting bigamy and sodomy as examples. “There have been episodes of our government legislating morality” throughout history.
The candidates differed to lesser degree when it comes to job creation. Rains said consumption spurs job creation, while Hulbert said entrepreneurs and producers create jobs. Hulbert did, however, concede consumers “create a demand” for the goods for which a producer has found a need.
On other issues, there was little difference between the Democratic nominee and his Republican rival. Hulbert and Rains cited public education as their top legislative concern. Each would restore the $221 million that has been cut from public education since 2009, a 10.8 percent hit during the course of four years. They also would scale back unfunded mandates and abandon end-of-instruction tests.
With regard to tax cuts, both were opposed — especially if they were accomplished at the expense of education. Hulbert said he would support cuts to lawmakers’ salaries before cutting education spending.
Both candidates supported additional reforms to the state’s worker’s compensation system. Both also expressed support for tort reforms, which they believe would attract new businesses to the state and reduce the cost of health care.
Hulbert and Rains are competing for the legislative seat vacated by Rep. George Faught, who lost his bid as a Republican contender in the 2nd Congressional District race. They will meet Nov. 6 in the general election.
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot @muskogeephoenix.com.