Analysis: Can Coates Become Senate Pro Temp?

State Sen. Harry Coates of Seminole said in a Tuesday interview with
The Tulsa World he has the support needed to become President Pro Temp
of the state Senate, a position now held by fellow Republican Sen.
Glenn Coffee of Oklahoma City. But given the close partisan division in
the state Legislature’s upper chamber, Coates’ route to the top job may
be a bit clouded.

Although Coates told The World he believes he can settle the race
within the GOP caucus, he already has the support of Charlie Laster,
the Senate Democrat (minority) leader. Republicans presently have a
26-22 edge in the Senate.

Capitol sources have told this reporter there may be three Republican
Senators inclined for varied reasons support the effort to unseat
Coffee. They are identified as Cliff Aldridge of Midwest City, Jim
Reynolds of Oklahoma City, and Anthony Sykes of Moore.  As The World’s
Barbara Hoberock reported, Aldridge is also a candidate for the Pro
Temp’s position.
If Aldridge, Reynolds and Sykes – or, for that matter, any three
Republicans — bolted to join Laster and the 22 Democratic senators in
a bipartisan coalition, Coates could prevail. But if they  stayed with
the current Pro Temp and the remainder of the caucus, even in the event
of Coates’ shift away from fellow Republicans, Coffee would maintain a
25-23 edge and remain in control of the Senate.

The final complicating piece of the puzzle would be if any two
Republicans bolted to join a unified Democratic caucus, the upper
chamber would be tied as it was after the 2006 election. That might
lead to another power sharing agreement such as that forged for two
years between Coffee and former state Sen. Mike Morgan of Stillwater, a

About the author: An award-winning journalist, Pat McGuigan is a longtime contributor to Tulsa Today and serves as our contributing editor. He is also managing editor of a weekly newspaper in Oklahoma City.