Staff reports

Democrat Frank Shurden believes he’s the only Democrat in the labor commissioner race who can beat incumbent Republican Brenda Reneau in the general election.

Shurden just completed 28 years in the Legislature, being term-limited out as a state senator, but he said Democratic supporters asked him to do “one more job.” He was author of a shell bill that would have given higher education tuition control back to the Legislature, a bill Gov. Brad Henry vetoed Tuesday. Shurden visited Enid Wednesday on a campaign stop.

Shurden faces Lloyd L. Fields, of Oklahoma City, in the Democratic primary July 25. Fields previously lost the election for labor commissioner to Reneau in 2002. However, Shurden is setting his sights on winning the primary and running against Reneau in November.

He criticized the incumbent Republican for what he said was her not giving a fair balance to employees, favoring employers in labor issues. He criticized her support of right-to-work legislation.

“This labor commissioner is slanted too much in the employer realm,” Shurden said.

Shurden said he has a track record of working in favor of the working person.

“They need someone to advocate for better wages,” he said, promising he will advocate for an increase in the minimum wage.

Shurden is a cattle rancher from Henryetta. He served four terms in the House and five terms in the state Senate. He advocated this past session to protect volunteer firefighters from being penalized in their jobs for missing work due to fighting a number of wildfires across the state this past winter and spring.

The labor commissioner supervises administration of laws relating to labor in manufacturing, mechanical and transportation industries. The commissioner also collects and presents information bearing on labor conditions in the state and enforces and administers the provisions of Oklahoma Occupational Health and Safety Standards Act of 1970, which requires affected employers to establish and maintain reasonably safe and healthful conditions at work.

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