Cockfighters elected Brad Henry (D) 2002 Oklahoma Governor


It is really about freedom!

– Gameness til the End

Brad Henry

Charles Bradford “Brad” Henry (born June 10, 1963) is a former Governor of Oklahoma. A member of the Democratic Party, he was elected governor in 2002. Henry faced Republican US Representative Ernest Istook for re-election on November 7, 2006, and won with 66% of the vote.

Henry was the third governor and second Democrat in Oklahoma history to hold two consecutive terms, after Democrat George Nigh and Republican Frank Keating. As a tax-cutting governor, who signed into law parental notification laws limiting abortion, Henry has sought to appeal to Republicans, Democrats and Independents across party lines.

Initiative rights

On June 8, 2009, Gov. Brad Henry vetoed Oklahoma House Bill 2246, drawing a rebuke from Oklahomans for Responsible Government.

Early life and education

A third generation Oklahoman, Henry was born in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the son of prominent attorney, State Representative and Judge Charles Henry. He attended public schools and graduated from Shawnee High School. After graduating, Henry attended the University of Oklahoma as a President’s Leadership Scholar and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics in 1985. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. In 1988, he was awarded his law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, where he served as managing editor of the Law Review. He served in the Oklahoma State Senate from 1992 until he became Governor.

2002 gubernatorial election

In the 2002 election for governor, Henry defeated former Republican United States Congressman Steve Largent, an NFL Hall of Famer, by just over one-half of one percent in a race that also included Independent candidate Gary Richardson, a retired Federal Prosecutor. Henry received 448,143 votes (43.27%) to Largent’s 441,277 votes (42.61%). Richardson, a former Democratic candidate, was the second most successful third-party gubernatorial candidate in the nation in that election, receiving 146,200 votes (14%).

Henry ran an underdog campaign of “barnstorming” rural areas, and stopping at Wal-Mart stores in an RV with supporters. Henry was endorsed by legendary football Coach Barry Switzer, who has strong popularity in the Sooner State and accompanied Henry to many campaign events.

On the policy side of the campaign, Henry ran on the platform of the “education governor.” He argued for increasing teachers’ salaries and funding for higher education in the state by approving a state lottery to raise money. Henry’s candidacy received a last minute boost against Largent, due to a ballot initiative banning cockfighting, which was unpopular in rural areas. Henry played neutral on the issue through most of the race as the proposed ban was popular in urban areas. Henry would secure support from pro-cockfighting forces in rural areas.


Henry was officially sworn in as Oklahoma’s 26th Governor on January 13, 2003, with the oath of office being administered by his cousin, federal appeals court judge Robert Harlan Henry. As Governor, he is a member of the National Governors Association, the Southern Governors’ Association, and the Democratic Governors Association. He is the current president of the Council of State Governments.

Henry made national headlines by giving sanctuary from the redistricting warrant to Texas Democrats in that state’s legislature by allowing them to travel across state lines into Oklahoma en masse to deny a quorum for voting on a redistricting plan. “Our position is that, without a warrant signed by a judge, we have no authority. Even under those circumstances, we are hesitant to get pulled into a Texas political battle. If we’re going to do battle with Texas, we prefer that it be on the football field,” Henry said through his spokesman.

2006 campaign

In the Democratic Party primary election on July 25, 2006, Henry received 218,712 votes, 86% of the vote.

In the November 7 general election, Henry faced Fifth District U.S. Congressman Republican Ernest Istook and won with 66% of the vote. He won with a higher total than any gubernatorial candidate in almost fifty years.

Future campaigns

On November 30, 2006, Governor Henry stated that he does not intend to run for the United States Senate in 2008 or 2010. There had been some speculation that Henry would face incumbent Senators Jim Inhofe or Tom Coburn when they face re-election. There has even been some speculation that Governor Henry could run for President of the United States in the future.

Portrait switching

The Oklahoma Watchdog reported that Lewis Moore said he was among those who switched Rep. Henry’s portrait with that of Pres. Barack Obama. There is allegedly video evidence of the switch, but it has not been released by Speaker Chris Benge.

Oklahoma Ban on Cockfighting, State Question 687 (2002)

The Oklahoma Ban on Cockfighting Act, also known as State Question 687, was on the November 5, 2002 ballot in Oklahoma as an initiated state statute, where it was approved. The measure made it illegal to hold or encourage a cockfight, to be a spectator at a cockfight and to keep birds for fighting purposes.

Election results

Oklahoma State Question 687 (2002)

Result Votes Percentages
Yes 565,967 56.19%
No 441,220 43.81%

Election results via: Oklahoma Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot title

The official ballot title appeared as:

This measure adds a new section to Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes. The measure makes cockfighting illegal. It defines “cockfight” or “cockfighting” as:

1. A fight between birds.
2. Whether or not fitted spurs, knives, or gaffs.
3. Whether or not bets or wagers are made on the outcome of the fight.

The definition includes training fights.

The measure defines equipment used for training or handling a fighting bird.

Under the measure:

1. It is a felony to instigate or encourage cockfighting.
2. It is a felony to keep places, equipment or facilities for cockfighting.
3. It is a felony to aid or assist in cockfighting.
4. It is a felony to own, possess, keep or train birds for cockfighting.

Under the proposal it is a misdemeanor to knowingly be a spectator at a cockfight.

The measure provides for the forfeiture of birds and equipment use in cockfighting.


For the Proposal. ___ YES

Against the Proposal. ___ NO


Full text

The full text of the measure can be read here.


The animal protection movement scored a series of major ballot measure victories on Election Day, winning five of six contests in Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Oklahoma. In Florida, voters approved a ban on the intensive confinement of pigs in “gestation crates.” While in Oklahoma, voters made that state the 48th to ban the inhumane and barbaric practice of cockfighting.


Voters rejected a counter measure in Oklahoma by cockfighters and other groups that would have effectively barred animal advocates from using the initiative process.

“The people of Oklahoma have outlawed the barbaric practice of cockfighting,” added Michael Markarian, president of The Fund for Animals, a leading national animal protection organization that strongly backed all of the animal protection ballot measures. “The law is closing in on cockfighters, and there are now only two states that allow these gladiatorial spectacles.”

Path to the ballot

90,748 signatures were filed to qualify it for the ballot. Elections officials in the state determined that not enough of the signatures were valid. The supporters filed a lawsuit, and in the case of Oklahoma In re Initiative Petition No. 365, the Oklahoma Supreme Court overruled elections officials, placing the measure on the ballot, and it passed.

poultry gamefowl chicken gamecock

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