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TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker has abandoned his effort to rename a stretch of old Route 66 in northeastern Oklahoma after President Donald Trump.
State Sen. Nathan Dahm told the Tulsa World on Wednesday that he’s done trying to rename the 4-mile (6-kilometer) span of the historic highway in Ottawa County, which borders Kansas and Missouri.
Dahm may find another spot to rename Donald Trump Highway, but it won’t be associated with the Mother Road.
“I am open to working with anyone to find a satisfactory solution,” Dahm said.
Republican Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, who oversees Oklahoma’s marketing and branding, swiftly rejected the idea of naming sections of Route 66 after Trump or any other political figure.
“I don’t care if you want to call it Mother Teresa Highway or Donald Trump Highway; there is only one thing to call it, and that’s Historic Route 66,” Pinnell said Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a visitor’s center in west Tulsa along the roadway, which once connected Chicago to Los Angeles.
Pinnell and others have been working to establish the route of the former U.S. 66 for tourism. Pinnell said a “uniform branding” campaign would soon be rolled out.
Beyond the branding effort, some people who have been long associated with the highway just don’t want it pulled into politics.
“Route 66 is not red or blue,” author and Route 66 historian Michael Wallis wrote on his Facebook page. “The Mother Road’s color is purple.”
The Oklahoma Route 66 Association also denounced the idea.
“The Route 66 shield … has become one of the most iconic symbols in the world, appearing throughout Europe, Asia and points around the globe,” the organization said in a statement on its Facebook page. “Officially calling the road anything other than Historic Route 66 adds confusion and dilutes the uniquely American experience that the highway represents.”
FILE – In this Nov. 6, 2019 file photo, Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell watches as Mayor G.T. Bynum and District 2 Councilor Jeannie Cue celebrate after cutting a ribbon during the opening of the Route 66 Village Station in Tulsa. Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm said Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, that he is done trying to rename a portion of the iconic Route 66 highway in northeastern Oklahoma after President Donald Trump. (Ian Maule/Tulsa World via AP, File)
State Rep. Ben Loring, who represents the district where the proposed stretch of highway is located, noted it could have hurt tourism, which is vital to the northeastern corner of the state.
“All of the mayors whose communities would be affected and the County Commissioners join me in opposition to this idea,” Loring said in a statement. “This is not a political party divide. Many Americans with strong political beliefs and foreign tourists would avoid this section of Route 66 simply because of this legislation if it goes through. That is not fair to these communities.