Oklahoma Democrats elect Sen. Sean Burrage as Senate minority leader
BY BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
11/09/11 at 7:55 AM
OKLAHOMA CITY - Democrats on Tuesday selected Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, as the Senate minority leader.
Burrage, 43, succeeds Sen. Andrew Rice, D-Oklahoma City, who is leaving the Senate and the state. Rice's resignation is effective Jan. 15.
"With the resignation of Sen. Rice, I felt it was time for me to step forward," Burrage said. "I believe the state is entitled to an alternative voice to the majority. I am ready and willing to lead in that effort."
Burrage defeated Sen. Jim Wilson, D-Tahlequah, for the post. An attorney, Burrage is considered a conservative Democrat who is pro-life.
Gov. Mary Fallin said: "I look forward to working with him to build bipartisan consensus on policies that will create jobs, make government more efficient and accountable, and continue to move Oklahoma forward. Sen. Burrage is a responsible, conscientious and effective lawmaker. I know he is more than up to the task."
Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said: "I have had the privilege of working with Sean for several years and have seen firsthand his thoughtfulness and temperament. Though we may not agree on every issue, I believe Sen. Burrage to be a man of integrity who will facilitate a healthy and honest public debate as the Senate works to move Oklahoma forward."
Burrage was elected to the Senate in 2006 and re-elected in 2010 without opposition.
He said working for former U.S. Sen. David Boren, D-Oklahoma, who is now president of the University of Oklahoma, showed him the value of public service.
"One individual can make a difference," Burrage said.
He said Senate Democrats have not developed an agenda for the next session, but they are concerned about the future of education, including vouchers, the state's failure to fully fund health benefits for teachers and the failure to provide a $5,000 stipend for teachers who attain National Board certification.
Senate Democrats have 16 seats in the 48-member upper chamber.
Part of Burrage's challenge will be protecting seats of Democratic incumbents and trying to increase his party's Senate seats at a time when Democrats have seen their numbers decline in the Legislature and in statewide offices.
Burrage and his wife, Carole Burrage, have two sons, Truman, 15, and Carter, 7.
His father, Michael Burrage, is a former federal judge. His uncle, Steve Burrage, is a former state auditor and inspector.
Sen. Sean Burrage
Education: Antlers High School, 1986; University of Oklahoma, bachelor's degree in accounting, 1990, and law degree, 1993
Experience: staff member for former U.S. Sen. David Boren, 1993-94; director of state and federal relations, University of Oklahoma, 1994-96; private practice in Claremore, 1996-present
Legislative background: elected to Senate, 2006; re-elected unopposed, 2010
Original Print Headline: Burrage elected minority leader
Barbara Hoberock 405-528-2465
Sen. Sean Burrage