Forget Mary Fallin. Todd Lamb needs to break up with Larry Nichols…
2:57 PM EST on February 22, 2018
A few weeks ago, The Oklahoman highlighted the various measures Lt. Governor Todd Lamb has taken to distance himself from poison pill Governor Mary Fallin. For some reason, I guess Todd doesn't want his sputtering gubernatorial campaign to be associated with one of the most unpopular and ineffective Oklahoma politicians in this state's recent history.
Lamb tries to distance himself from state Capitol as he runs for governor
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb made his split with Gov. Mary Fallin very public last year. And he routinely criticizes her 2017 sales tax proposals...
In an interview last fall with reporters from The Oklahoman, he said, “You cannot get any closer to the action, at the same time being further removed than being lieutenant governor
“Trust me, I know. I have no stick. I have no carrot. I've never been in the budget negotiations.”
It may be tough to claim distance from state leaders. His office is down the hall from Fallin's and he is president of the Oklahoma Senate, which is right upstairs from him. Some of his opponents in the Republican primary are bound to yoke him to the governor; Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson placed an ad on social media last year referring to him as Mary's little Lamb.
Yeah, that "Mary's little Lamb" line is just too easy. Good luck shaking that off. It's going to stick to Todd's skin like a tight wool sweater.
That being said, although it's catchy, memorable and sure to get a bunch of Facebook likes, the phrase doesn't paint an accurate picture of the Todd / Mary dynamic. The issue with Todd Lamb isn't that he's led around by Mary Fallin. I'm pretty sure they operate independently of each other. The issue is that they're both controlled by the same puppet master – Devon Energy's Larry Nichols.
For those who are new to the show, Larry Nichols is one of Oklahoma's most revered, respected and feared Oil Overlords. In fact, he may be the richest, most powerful Larry in world history. He has no problem using his wealth, influence and power to hand-pick conservative elected officials at the local, state and federal level, and use them as pawns to implement a pro-corporation, anti-tax, conservative establishment agenda.
The proof of Nichols' involvement in Oklahoma politics is everywhere and easy to see. For example:
That infamous pic accompanied this Oklahoman article about Mary Fallin's "transition" team. Check it out:
Gov.-elect Mary Fallin has picked one of the state's most successful businessmen and the first Republican leader of the Senate to share duties in heading up her transition team, driving home common themes of her campaign to bring jobs to the state and to make state government smaller and more efficient.
The Republican named Larry Nichols, Devon Energy's executive chairman and former chairman of The State Chamber, and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, to serve as co-chairmen of her transition. Coffee could not seek re-election because of term limits; his term expires next week.
"I've said all along during my campaign that this administration will focus on job creation and building the very best business environment ... so we can get Oklahoma's economy back on track," said Fallin, who won 60 percent of the vote in last week's gubernatorial election.
"My administration will also focus on creating a smaller, smarter, more efficient state government so that we can protect taxpayer dollars and deliver the most effective governmental services," she said.
Let's give Mary Fallin, Larry Nichols and his foot soldier Glenn Coffee some credit. They've definitely accomplished their goal of making Oklahoma government smaller. Hell, they've even managed to cut a day out of the school week! Even Donald Trump would admit that's impressive.
Nichols and Coffee will be heading efforts to develop a smooth transition for Fallin and her staff into the governor's office....
Fallin said she will be announcing other members of the transition staff during the next several days.
Fallin called Nichols, a leader in the energy industry, one of the state's most innovative businessmen and a great civic leader. She said Coffee, a businessman and attorney who was a leading proponent of lawsuit reform, was an effective legislator.
In all fairness to Larry, the "transition" happened eight-years ago. We've literally had thousands of man-made earthquakes since then. I'm going to try to write this with a straight face, but maybe, just maybe, Mary Fallin – a person who literally can't recite the three branches of government – went rogue, ignored her benefactors advice and tutelage, and implemented her own disastrous policies.
Something tells me that's not the case.
In 2014, Larry and other Oil Overlords eagerly worked with Mary Fallin and lawmakers to set gross production taxes at an outrageously-low 2% level. They did this because, you know, letting corporations set their own tax rates is rational and sane. They obviously want what's best for the people and state, and not company profits and out-of-state shareholders.
Also, Larry Nichols' name still shows up on Mary Fallin's Post-it "To Do" list. Remember that?
Let's zoom on the blue folder:
I wonder what Mary and Larry talked about in their phone call? Where they trying to figure out new ways to fund teacher pay raises on the backs of lower-income Oklahomans? Maybe Mary Fallin was complaining about the volume of the earpiece Larry uses to speak into her ear?
As you can see, Larry Nichols' influence, power and control over Mary Fallin and her awful policies is evident and clear. Now he's turning his attention to his next puppet...
Back in January, while Larry Nichols' "Step Up Oklahoma" plan was being pitched to citizens and lawmakers, the organization's propaganda outlet – The Oklahoman – published an amusing article forgiving Mayor Mick and Todd Lamb for wisely not supporting the initiative during campaign season.
Top leaders of the Step Up Oklahoma coalition say they are sticking by their choices for governor even though the candidates haven't embraced the group's revenue and reform plan to raise teacher pay and plug the state's budget hole.
J. Larry Nichols, chairman emeritus of Devon Energy Corp., and Allen Wright, vice president for public and government affairs at Devon, said they are still strongly supporting Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a Republican, for governor. Lamb said last week he would oppose any tax increases...
Nichols is the chairman of Lamb's campaign.
Wait a second. Nichols is the chairman of Lamb's campaign? That's weird. I thought Todd Lamb was trying to distance himself from Mary Fallin, state lawmakers, revenue failures, reacher shortages, etc? If that's the case, don't you think Todd would also cut ties with Mary's benefactor?
Obviously, the answer to that question is "No." Just like Mary, Todd Lamb is firmly in Larry Nichols' back pocket. They've been buddy-buddy for over a decade. Here's a video of them jerking each other off at the Southern Republican Leadership conference in 2016:
Jesus. I needed a cigarette after watching that thing. I'm surprised the Brokeback Mountain theme wasn't playing in the background. Instead of "Mary's little Lamb," maybe Lamb's opponents should go for "Larry's little Lamb." Just look at how much Todd adores the man who worked behind the scenes to make Oklahoma a shithole state:
Actually, I have a better idea. I'd suggest ditching the easy puns and equating the Lamb/ Fallin dynamic to a different nursery rhyme – Itsy Bitsy Spider. Because if Larry Nichols...errr... I mean Todd Lamb is elected governor next November, this state's climbing up the same damn water spout only to be washed out by revenue failures, four day school weeks, and teacher shortages all over again.