Dave Weston, Oklahoma Republican Party Chair and candidate
Delegates to the Oklahoma Republican Party's State Convention on April 11th will be choosing between at least three candidates for State Chair: Randy Brogdon, Pam Pollard, and incumbent Dave Weston. Like I did in 2013, I contacted each of the individuals, and they have all filled out a survey that I hope will help delegates be more informed for the convention. Brogdon's survey can be seen here, and Pollard's is here.
Closing out the candidates, here's Dave Weston.
1. Tell us a little bit about your personal side.
I am a fourth generation Oklahoman whose family originally homesteaded in Northeastern Seminole County in the township of Schoolton. I have been a resident of Lexington, OK for seventeen years. I graduated from Custer High School and Oklahoma State University with a B.S. in Agricultural Economics. My wife Tyra and I have been married for eighteen years and we have three children, Tanner, 16; Savana, 14; and Sela, 12. We attend church at First Baptist Lexington. Professionally I was employed for twenty plus years in the financial services industry.
2. What is your past and present involvement with the Republican Party (from precinct-level to RNC)? If possible, include approximate dates.
I first decided to get involved in the Republican Party around 1998 because I believed in Right-To-Work. Since then I've been blessed to serve in multiple capacities from precinct chairman, to district committeeman, to county executive committee. I also worked at the state party as a staff member during 2005 and 2006 and I've been blessed to serve as the chairman since 2013.
3. What political involvement have you had outside of the Republican Party (i.e. campaigns, elected office, political groups, etc.)? If possible, include approximate dates.
I have volunteered and served as an advisor for multiple candidates at all stages from City Council to the Federal Level. Of note: I was very active in Cleveland County during Steve Largent's 2002 gubernatorial campaign as a volunteer and Dr. Coburn’s 2004 Senate campaign as a County Victory Coordinator. I also served on the Oklahoma team for Gov. Mike Huckabee’s 2008 presidential campaign. In 2009 I was blessed to consult with James Lankford on his initial and subsequent congressional campaigns and in 2011 I was proud be one of Cong. Jim Bridenstine's initial campaign advisors.
4. What prompted you to run for chairman this year?
2016 is rapidly approaching and in my short tenure as Chairman, we’ve been blessed with outstanding success beginning with the surprising come-from-behind reelection of Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, then our efforts and approach were validated by huge successes last November.
I have had the privilege to meet and work closely with some of the brightest minds in Republican leadership across the country to develop a winning strategy.
In working with them, the principle of continuity has struck me time and again as essential to long term success. Among those leaders are three great examples: Roger Villere, Chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party; Doyle Webb, Chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party; and Chris Devaney, Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.
Their states are also some of the reddest in the union and they play a pivotal role in ensuring that conservative leadership expands at levels. Each has one thing in common: continuity in leadership. Each of those chairmen has served multiple terms for his party which has allowed them to keep making progress without the setbacks and inefficiencies associated with a turnover in leadership. That’s why I’m seeking re-election.
5. What do you view as the top three duties of the state chairman?
I'm a firm believer that it's going to take a generation of GOP control to fix the problems we've inherited from the liberal regressive good old boys who previously controlled Oklahoma. But we are going to have to achieve our objectives incrementally.
So we have to build and sustain our majorities by winning elections. This is best achieved through developing resources and services which our candidates can utilize to be successful. After all, we have many wonderful organizations that are raising money to give money to candidates but none are positioned to develop resources and services like the OKGOP. Second, we need to continue to train candidates on how to most effectively run and win. Finally, we have plenty of critics and watchdogs in the political process. Someone must carry the banner of the Republican Party for our candidates with messaging about the benefits of conservative principles while also pointing out the fallacies of the liberal regressive ideologues who oppose us.
6. What are your top priorities if elected chairman?
We were blessed during the past cycle with unprecedented success throughout the state. We won in areas where many thought we could never be successful like Idabel and Okmulgee. While we’ve managed to turn those districts red, we need to continue to build upon our momentum and carry our achievements down to the courthouse, schoolhouse and municipal hall.
Additionally we need to continue to improve and coordinate our messaging, so we will work to establish projects like a media room at the state party headquarters that our candidates and elected officials can use. We also just began hosting a monthly communications luncheon with the Federal Delegation, Statewide Officials and the State House and Senate media personnel.
7. Fundraising is an important aspect of running the state party. How much do you expect to need to raise to fully fund effective party operations, and how do you intend to approach fundraising for that goal?
For this year we will need to raise approximately $600,000 to fund our operations and we are well on our way toward meeting this goal. Fundraising needs to come from a multifaceted approach of large statewide events, smaller regional events as well as, a combination of direct mail and individual solicitation from the Chairman. Now that our donors have seen our successes they are even more willing to help fund our operations.
8. The individual elected at the state convention will be in office for the 2016 presidential primary. Do you have any plans to increase Oklahoma's influence in the primary process, or to attract more visits by the candidates?
Those plans are well underway; we actively petitioned the Southern Region Members of the National Committee and were unanimously selected to host the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, which will take place on in Oklahoma City May 21st, 22nd and 23rd. This will undoubtedly be the largest political event to take place in Oklahoma.
To date we've already been able to confirm Gov. Bobby Jindal, Gov. Scott Walker, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Rick Santorum, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and Donald Trump. In addition we are having an active dialogue with all of the other presidential hopefuls about coming to Oklahoma for this historic conference.
In addition, we are exploring options that will improve the probability of visits into 2016 as well.
9. List some of the individuals who are publicly supporting your candidacy that delegates might recognize.
I have been personally told by dozens of County Chairman, District Chairman, Women’s Club Presidents and elected officials at all levels that they are pleased with the job we have been doing at the State Party. The most common statements that I hear are, “There is no need to fix something that isn’t broken.” and “Let’s keep a good thing going!”
To date: National Committeeman Steve Fair, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett, freshman State Senator’s Roger Thompson and Joseph Silk, and newly elected Dewey County Commissioner Dillon Berry represent a small fraction of those who have sent us statements of endorsement that we will be making public. We will be rolling out many more as the convention approaches.
10. Here's your closing statement - cover whatever you want to talk about (250 words or less).
My objective as Chairman has been one simple thing: to build upon the foundation that was laid by my predecessors. Each played a critical role in making our party what it is today. It is upon that foundation that we have just enjoyed the most successful election cycle in Oklahoma history. From the Courthouse to the State Capitol and up to the DC Beltway we were blessed to win 70% of the races in November.
Moving forward, we are poised to host the largest political event in Oklahoma history when we kick off the Southern Republican Leadership Conference this May. Oklahoma is positioned to become the center of the political universe during this event, and we will undoubtedly have more influence than we have ever had in determining our party's presidential nominee.
Due to term limits, the next four years pose a challenge to our party that requires steady leadership. And what we do will determine whether we continue our success in preparing and equipping a new generation of conservative control.
It is with that vision in mind that I am seeking re-election as Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. Let’s keep a good thing going and institute a generation of GOP control in 2016 that will continue to move Oklahoma, and our nation, onward and upward!Thank you for participating, Dave.
You can view fellow chair candidates' surveys at these links: Randy Brogdon, and Pam Pollard.