Rep. Dan Boren (D)
Oklahoma 2nd District
The land that is now northeast Oklahoma used to be Indian territory, the place where in the 1830s the Five Civilized Tribes were driven from Georgia and Alabama over the Trail of Tears. Almost 15% of people here report their race as American Indian, and in some counties, one-third or more say they are part Indian. The Native American identity is highest in the hilly counties just west of the Ozarks of Arkansas, where county names—Cherokee, Osage, Sequoyah—recall the Civilized Tribes. The street signs in scenic Tahlequah, the Cherokee capital since 1839, are written in both English and Cherokee. The Creek Nation chose its tribal site in Okmulgee in the belief that tornadoes would not strike the area; history has proven the choice correct so far. In the northeast corner of the state, Ottawa County has been home to more Indian tribes than any other county in the nation. This pleasant land of gentle hills and man-made lakes recently has grown at a healthy pace, with the advent of Indian-owned casinos and population spread from Tulsa.
2008 Presidential Vote
|Cook Partisan Voting Index|
South of Indian country is Oklahoma’s Little Dixie, settled between 1889 and 1907 by white Southerners, most of them poor. Some of the county names—LeFlore, Pontotoc—are borrowed straight from Mississippi. Interstate highways and turnpikes connect people to jobs in more-vibrant metropolitan areas, while dam-made lakes have spurred resort and retirement communities. Still, traditional cultural attitudes and folkways remain strong. When Oklahoma voted in 2002 to outlaw cockfighting, voters in many Little Dixie towns turned out in large numbers to oppose the ban.
The 2nd Congressional District includes most of the eastern third of Oklahoma, except for metropolitan Tulsa. It includes Muskogee, which inspired Merle Haggard’s song “Okie From Muskogee”; Claremore, Will Rogers’s hometown; and McAlester, former House Speaker Carl Albert’s home. McAlester, originally a rail center for the coal mining industry, is the site of a massive Army ammunition plant that manufactures non-nuclear bombs (during the war in Iraq, it was forced to add a night shift). The abandoned Tar Creek lead and zinc mines left a destructive legacy, and the region became a huge Superfund site in the 1980s. This area was ancestrally Democratic, but in the 1980s, it trended Republican on cultural issues. In the past decade, voters moved back toward the Democrats. Brad Henry carried every county here in his two races for governor. Al Gore was competitive with a 52%-47% loss to George W. Bush, but John Kerry lost 59%-41%. In 2008, John McCain defeated Barack Obama 66%-34%.
Rep. Dan Boren (D)
Elected: 2004, 3rd term.
Born: Aug. 2, 1973, Shawnee .
Education: TX Christian U., B.S. 1997, U. of OK, M.B.A. 2000.
Family: Married (Andrea); 1 child.
Elected office: OK House of Reps., 2002-04.
Professional Career: Aide, OK Corp. Comm., 1997-98; Loan processor, Banc First Corp., 1999-2000; Staffer, U.S. Rep. Wes Watkins 2000-01.
The congressman from the 2nd District is Dan Boren, who was elected in 2004 and hails from one of Oklahoma’s prominent political families. His grandfather, Lyle Boren, represented southeastern Oklahoma in Congress from 1937 to 1947. His father, David Boren, a Democrat, was elected governor in 1974 and senator in 1978. David Boren was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee before he resigned from Congress in 1994 to become president of the University of Oklahoma. Dan Boren grew up in Shawnee and in Longview, Texas, where he lived with his mother and stepfather. He graduated from Texas Christian University and the University of Oklahoma Business School. He worked as a college fundraiser, as a staffer on the state Corporation Commission, and as a district aide to Republican Rep. Wes Watkins, who represented Little Dixie until he retired in 2002. Based in rural Okfuskee County, Boren ran for the state House in 2002 at age 29, raised $200,000, and unseated a Republican who had switched from the Democratic Party. He became chairman of the Democratic Caucus.
|Dan Boren (D)||173,757||(70%)||($960,350)|
|Raymond Wickson (R)||72,815||(30%)|
|Dan Boren (D)||66,041||(85%)|
|Kevin Coleman (D)||11,438||(15%)|
Prior Winning Percentages: 2006 (73%), 2004 (66%)
When Boren was still in his first term, the Democratic incumbent in the 2nd Congressional District, Brad Carson, announced he was running for the Senate, and Boren decided to make a play for Carson’s seat. The Democratic primary narrowed to a contest between Boren and former district prosecutor Kalyn Free. Boren had the backing of local business and was the more conservative candidate. While he supported abortion rights, he favored restrictions, such as parental consent for minors. Unlike many other Democrats, Boren opposed repeal of the Bush-era tax cuts, and he said he would have voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq. His positions aroused significant opposition from left-leaning interest groups. Several labor unions, environmental groups, and MoveOn.org endorsed Free. EMILY’s List poured more than $500,000 into her campaign, but it wasn’t enough. Boren won the Democratic primary 58%-36%. In the general election, he won 66%-34% against Republican horse breeder Wayland Smalley.
His voting record places Boren among the most conservative Democrats in the House. He was the only Democrat to oppose limits on prosecutors seeking to review library records in terrorism investigations, and he supported repeal of the federal estate and gift taxes. On the Armed Services Committee, Boren sponsored a bill to ban the use of names and images of military members in anti-war commercial enterprises. Although he sometimes disagreed with the tactics in Iraq, he mostly supported the Bush administration’s policies there and in Afghanistan.
Boren won re-election easily in 2006 and 2008. Over the past 30 years, this district has sent young and inexperienced candidates to Washington: Democrat Mike Synar at age 28 in 1978; Republican Tom Coburn, after a career in obstetrics, in 1994; and Democrat Carson at age 33 in 2000. Boren, at age 31 and with only two years in the Legislature, was part of that tradition. He appears to have a safe seat, but he may some day run for governor, as his father did, or for senator, as his two 2nd District predecessors did. Despite considerable support from other Democrats, he dismissed a possible challenge to Republican Sen. James Inhofe in 2008. And he said in November 2008 that he will not run statewide in 2010. He declined to endorse Democratic nominee Barack Obama for president because, he said, Obama was too liberal.