Monday, May 18, 2015
Controversy has recently been stirred up regarding OKGOP Chairman Randy Brogdon hiring T.C. Ryan, former Tulsa County GOP State Committeeman, as his top staffer. Word got out two weeks ago that Ryan had been involved in an altercation with a girlfriend in 2012, which resulted in him receiving a misdemeanor conviction for "domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor" and for "interference with an emergency telephone call".
Nothing usually happens by accident in politics. I suspect the real target is not TC Ryan, but rather Chairman Brogdon. Perhaps the recent election for state chair has something to do with it (full disclosure: I voted for Pam Pollard).
Once the information hit the news, political figures and activists (including some who qualify as "attention-seekers") piled on to add their name to the list of those calling for one (or more) of three things: 1) Ryan's demotion, 2) Ryan's firing, 3) Brogdon's resignation. Some merely clarified that they are against domestic violence (as if it needed to be stated). Some have never been interested in helping or working with the state party before.
I'll admit - I'm a little torn about the situation. I understand what some say about giving Ryan a second chance. As a Christian, my own sins have been forgiven, and I've been given new life. As God has forgiven me, I am to forgive others. From his public statement as well as testimony from people I know, Ryan seems to have learned from this unfortunate event. I also understand the other side that says in this political climate, it is harmful for the top party staffer to have recently been convicted of domestic violence.
This has been terrible PR for the state party, on top of the financial problems left over from the past chairman. The problem is, this won't simply "go away". Brogdon has tripped a little on handling this. First he demoted Ryan (or rather, gave him a new title with essentially the same duties); now he's aggressively, even angrily, defending him. The mixed signals haven't helped.
Later this week, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference is coming to Oklahoma City. Practically every major announced or potential Republican presidential candidate will be coming to town. The last several election cycles, one of the main talking points by the Democrats has been the [absurd and trumped-up] "Republican war on women". It is not good publicity for the host party to be in the news for a staffer with a fairly recent domestic assault conviction. Given the mainstream media's leftward bias, I wouldn't be surprised if this gets dragged into the national spotlight on the SRLC.
A lot of damage has already been done. At this point, there really aren't any "good options" left. For the good of the Oklahoma Republican Party and Chairman Brogdon, I think the best option remaining is for T.C. Ryan to step down on his own.