Editorial: Anthony merits return to Oklahoma Corporation

The Oklahoman - June 19, 2012

ONLY one statewide office is on the ballot this year. It will be decided June 26 in the Republican primary. GOP voters will determine who holds an Oklahoma Corporation Commission seat for the next six years because no Democrat filed for the seat.

The office of corporation commissioner often flies under the radar, but it's one of the most powerful positions in state government. The commission's regulatory authority affects up to 20 percent of gross state product. Its potential impact on citizens is enormous.

Incumbent Bob Anthony is seeking a fifth six-year term. His challenger, Brooks Mitchell, is a former commission administrator. On balance, The Oklahoman believes Anthony is the better choice in this contest.

Anthony is a former president of the C.R. Anthony Co., a heritage Oklahoma family business. He thus has real-world experience often lacking in government, augmented by degrees from the Wharton School of Finance and the London School of Economics.

In office, Anthony has been a vocal critic of federal Environmental Protection Agency edicts that could result in draconian rate increases for electric power users. He has vigorously defended hydraulic fracturing in the face of sustained attacks from radical environmentalists, correctly seeing energy independence as a good thing. He has worked to address transmission problems in the electric grid through his efforts with the Southwest Power Pool, and has supported innovations such as smart electricity grids.

Anthony supports development of alternative energy sources, but rightly opposes mandates, seeing them as too rigid for a rapidly changing marketplace. He supports both coal-fired generation and natural gas power plants. Although he's often the odd man out in 2-1 commission votes, Anthony notes his obligation "is not to seek unanimous votes" but to benefit Oklahoma citizens. So long as it doesn't turn into obstruction, we think vigorous debate is good.

After he was first elected in 1988, Anthony worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to expose endemic corruption at the Corporation Commission. The full benefit of that action can't be calculated, but Oklahoma ratepayers continue to reap the benefit of Anthony's integrity.

Mitchell clearly knows the issues facing the Corporation Commission, having served as the agency's director of administration and director of the Petroleum Storage Tank Division. Anthony's track record, however, carries more weight. He deserves another term.

Owing to Oklahoma's closed primary system, Democrats will have no say in this race. There will be no Republican runoff. The next corporation commissioner will be selected on June 26.

In this decisive primary, The Oklahoman believes Republican voters should select Bob Anthony.

© 2012 The Oklahoman

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Bob Anthony - Corporation Commission

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