Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Brogdon takes over OKGOP amid financial issues

"I called Pam Pollard yesterday and demanded a recount!" 

That's what new OKGOP Chairman Randy Brogdon joked with Reid Mullins in an interview for the McCarville Report. Brogdon defeated Pollard in a runoff at the State Convention on April 11th, after incumbent chair Dave Weston came in third in the first ballot of voting.

Although the impression given during the chair race was that the party was doing well financially, Brogdon has taken over an organization in fiscal straits -- to the tune of approximately $50,000 in debt. Prominent Oklahoma City-based Republican fundraiser Trey Richardson has joined the effort to get the party back in black, along with financial contributions from Oklahoma's congressional delegation.

In his interview with Reid Mullins, Brogdon said that he has had to let the entire staff go, and operate temporarily with unpaid volunteers (he included himself in the "unpaid" category).

Blogger David Van Risseghem, of, has kicked off an 'OKGOP Minuteman' recruitment campaign aimed at getting more members of the $8.25-a-month donor program for the state party. Past chairman Matt Pinnell started the program with some success, but chairman Weston did not actively pursue it for most of his term.

If you would like to donate to the Oklahoma Republican Party, you can do so at this link, or you can sign up as an OKGOP Minuteman here.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Randy Brogdon, Estela Hernandez win races at OKGOP Convention

L-R: Matt Pinnell, Nat'l Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty, Vice-Chair Estela Hernandez, Chair Randy Brogdon

At the Oklahoma Republican State Convention on Saturday, delegates elected Randy Brogdon as the new state chair, and Estela Hernandez as vice-chair. Approximately 1300 delegates were in attendance for the convention, which featured a three-way race for state chair, as well as the vote for a new vice-chair.

The convention was hampered by problems with the registration/credentials process. The original plan was for the chair/vice-chair races to be voted on before the lunch break, but due to software problems it was 2pm before the convention gave up on getting an official credentials report, and settled for calling a delegate "credentialed" if they possessed the badge and ballots given to them when they checked-in that morning. Because business was backed up so late, the convention never took a lunch break.

On the first ballot for chair, Brogdon received 47.45%, Pollard took 29.11%, and Weston got 23.43%. In the runoff round, Brogdon won with 53.35% to Pollard's 46.65%. In the race for vice-chair, Estela Hernandez defeated John T. Lewis 58.12% to 41.88%.

Chairman Weston used a new registration/credentials process this year, and the project was not run by anyone who had been in charge at previous conventions. The staff did their best to make it work, but things just didn't go right. I think that frustration that mounted due to the credentials situation helped contribute to Weston's defeat. Here are two lessons I think can be learned: 1) if you have never run a convention before, don't try to reinvent the process and use an untried system; and 2) if you decide to reinvent the process, don't do it when you are on the ballot -- there is no chair race at the presidential-year convention.

Big kudos go to State Auditor Gary Jones, who had the unenviable job of chairing the convention. Jones, a former party chair himself, did an excellent job and has received much praise for his performance. Credentials may have been a fiasco, but Gary kept the convention orderly and cordial.

David Van Risseghem has posted a good synopsis of the convention on SoonerPolitics, and Mike McCarville has some other reports on the McCarville Report.

Marco Rubio launches Presidential campaign

This evening, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) officially announced that he is running for President. He joins fellow senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul as the first Republican candidates in what is likely to be a crowded field.

Rubi, Paul and Cruz are all in their first term in the Senate. Rubio and Paul were elected in 2010, while Cruz was elected in 2012. This causes a dilemma for Rubio and Paul; Ted Cruz is in the middle of his term, and won't risk his Senate seat by running for President, while 2016 is the end of Rubio's and Paul's term.

It is against state law in both Kentucky and Florida to be on the ballot for more than one office. Rand Paul looks like he will run for both President and Senate, and appears to be getting around that by having the Kentucky GOP move to a caucus rather than a primary, thus avoiding his being on the primary ballot for two offices. Rubio has said he would only run for President or Senate -- not both, like Democrats Joe Biden (in 2008) and Joe Lieberman (in 2000) did.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

2015 OKGOP State Convention Links

The Oklahoma Republican Party's State Convention is today in Oklahoma City. For delegates to the convention, here are some important links you may be interested in.

Surveys for State Chair candidates:

Randy Brogdon
Pam Pollard
Dave Weston

Further survey questions, answered by Brogdon and Pollard.

Surveys for State Vice-Chair candidates:

Estela Hernandez
John T. Lewis

Convention details

Seating chart
Nearby restaurants

Enjoy the convention, and hope to see you there!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Rep. David Dank has died

State Rep. David Dank (R-OKC) passed away earlier today at his home of an apparent heart attack. According to news reports, Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, a close friend, found him late in the afternoon while checking in on him after friends were unable to get in touch with Rep. Dank. He was 76. His wife Odilia, a former legislator, had passed away in 2013.

My father, State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee), was first elected to the House the same year as Rep. Dank (2007), and had this to say: "Rep. David Dank was a dear friend and mentor for me at the State Capitol. David was an advocate for the elderly and was a tireless champion for the Oklahoma taxpayer. We will sorely miss Rep. Dank, but his legacy will live on."

Gov. Mary Fallin issued the following statement: "Saddened to hear this evening of the passing of state Rep. David Dank. He was a hard-working, conscientious legislator as well as a great community leader and a savvy businessman who will be missed. I always appreciated his willingness to tell me what was on his mind. As a legislator, he looked out for the average citizens as exemplified by his diligence to work on issues benefiting senior citizens and to reform tax credits."

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Meet the Candidates: Estela Hernandez, OKGOP Vice-Chair hopeful

Estela Hernandez, candidate for OKGOP Vice-Chair

Delegates to the Oklahoma Republican Party's State Convention on Saturday will be choosing between three candidates for State Chair, and at least two candidates for Vice-Chair -- Estela Hernandez and John T. Lewis. Like I did in 2013, I sent each of the individuals a survey that I hope will help delegates be more informed for the convention. You can read the chair candidate surveys here: Randy BrogdonPam PollardDave Weston. Vice-chair candidate John T. Lewis' survey is here.

Closing out the vice-chair candidates, we have Estela Hernandez.

1. Tell us a little bit about your personal side (i.e. family, church, occupational background, etc.)
I’ve been married for 14 years and I’m a mother 3 kids.  For the past 12 years, my husband and I have owned and operated a construction company in Oklahoma City.  I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business.  I’m delighted to serve on various non-profit boards in Oklahoma City.  I’m passionate about my faith, my family, and our country. 

2. What involvement have you had in the past with the Republican Party (from precinct-level to RNC)? If possible, include approximate dates.
I became directly involved with OKGOP in 2010-2011.  I realized that I could no longer sit on the “political sidelines” and listen to a president who wants to “fundamentally transform America.”   As a mother of 3 Okies, I wanted to preserve the conservative values that Oklahomans hold dear and ensure that we uphold and defend the constitutional liberties for the next generation.   
I sought out volunteer opportunities in the community and I began getting involved with OKC Republican Women’s Club. I clearly recall asking the Chairman at that time, Matt Pinnell, “What else can I do to make a difference?”  He responded, “Get involved at the precinct level.”  Shortly after, I attended my first precinct meeting and was voted Chairman of Precinct 173 and Vice Chair of House District 84.    Last summer, I had the privilege of being one of five women selected to represent Oklahoma at the RNC Women’s Summit held in Washington D.C.

3. Do you currently hold any Republican Party office?
At the 2013 OK County Convention, I was elected as 5th District Committeewoman.  I’m currently Community Engagement Chair for Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women.  In the years I’ve been involved, I’ve helped develop a successful community engagement program for OKC Republican Women’s Club and Oklahoma County GOP.  By attending monthly naturalization ceremonies, we are registering new citizens to vote and sharing with them the importance of civic engagement.   For the most part, minority communities share the conservative values of the Republican Party.  We must continue building relationships and ensure that Republicans have a presence in all communities all year round.

4. What political involvement have you had outside of the Republican Party (i.e. campaigns, elected office, political groups, etc.)? If possible, include approximate dates.
My involvement outside of the Republican Party are helping out in various local and statewide campaigns.  The most recent campaigns are James Lankford for US Senate, Steve Russell for US Congress, Mary Fallin for Governor, and Mick Cornett for Mayor of Oklahoma City.

5. There have been seven state conventions in the last decade ('05, '07', '08, '09, '11, '12, '13); how many have you attended, and which (if any) did you not attend?
I have been actively working in the Oklahoma Republican Party for the past five years.  I recall speaking at the 2011 state convention with Evelyn McCoy, past president of OKCRW, on the importance of community outreach.  I also had the opportunity to attend the 2013 state convention.

6. What prompted you to run for this office?
Republicans have been playing defense far too long with the Democratic Party.  We have allowed the opposition to define us.  It’s time for us to brand our party and start playing offense!  Republicans have a great message that resonates with voters and I’m prepared to serve with humility, speak with boldness, and help grow the Republican Party. 
In the years I’ve been involved, I’ve seen wonderful things happen as we work to elect strong Republicans.  We have many organized clubs and passionate activists doing great work planting seeds of conservative principals.  However, I have noticed tension and division within the party.  In order for the party to have continued growth, we must work together to achieve success.  We can start by putting Philippians 2:4 into practice, “Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others.”  

7. What are your top priorities if elected as Vice-Chair?
If elected Vice Chair, I will work diligently to strengthen, unite, and grow the party.    Communication is the key to success of an organization. I will work to establish effective communication between the grassroots and OKGOP and help elect Republicans who stand on principal and will lead with conviction.  In order for OKGOP to thrive, we must work together with organized clubs across the state such as Young Republican, College Republicans, and Republican Women’s Clubs.  Oklahoma’s voter turn-out remains low and we must work together to empower the grassroots by helping precinct chairs get organized.

8. What do you view as your top duties as Vice-Chair?
The top duties of the Vice Chair is to work closely with all 77 counties in order to strengthen, organize, and grow the party.  The Vice Chair should establish effective communication between the grassroots and OKGOP and assist in electing strong Republican leaders.  She/he must promote and grow the Republican Party by encouraging involvement at the precinct level.  Build trust in the community by nurturing strong and lasting relationships between OKGOP and community leaders.

9. List some of the individuals who are publicly supporting your candidacy that delegates might recognize.
I’m truly humbled to have the support of many individuals in the Republican Party.  Our National Committeeman, Steve Fair has publicly endorsed me. 

10. Here’s your closing statement – cover whatever you want to talk about (250 words or less).
There is a common saying, “In order to know where we are going, we must remember where we came from”.  The Republican Party was formed for the purpose of fighting for the equal rights of others.  The passage of the 13th and 15th amendment abolished slavery and gave blacks the right to vote.  This was almost exclusively a Republican Party effort.  We are the party that empowers women and are inclusive of all people. 
We must continue to work together to promote the principles of the Republican Party.  We have the responsibility to preserve and fight for our God given rights.  I humbly ask for your support on April 11.  Together we can make a difference in our state and in our nation. 
Thanks for participating, Estela!

You can view the candidates' surveys at these links:

Surveys for Chair candidates:
Randy BrogdonPam PollardDave Weston.

Survey for Vice-Chair candidate:
John T. Lewis

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Rand Paul announces Presidential bid

This morning, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) announced that he is running for President. He joins fellow Senator Ted Cruz as the first official candidates on the GOP side.

There are several others that are expected to jump into the race very shortly, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has a "big announcement" he will be making on April 13th.