Oke transcended his pet causes

Bob Oke, the former 26th District state senator from Port Orchard who last week lost his long battle with cancer, will likely be remembered for having a personal popularity that often exceeded that of the causes he championed.

By his own admission, Oke’s signature accomplishments during his long political career were leading the fight to build a second bridge over the Tacoma Narrows and authoring a law that would prohibit tobacco companies in Washington from handing out free cigarettes at public events.

The former issue pitted Oke against the more than 70 percent of his own constituents who voted against the bridge in a 1998 advisory election, and the latter, whatever its merits, was more of a personal crusade on Oke’s part than something his supporters demanded he take up.

No matter. Oke’s personal warmth carried him to re-election even when he didn’t see eye-to-eye with the voters.

And in the end, what’s wrong with a legacy of being a better person than you are a politician?

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