Thursday, April 30, 2015

Socialist running for President as a Democrat

And no, I'm not talking about Hillary Clinton. I'm talking about her first official challenger in the Democratic presidential primary.


Meet Bernie Sanders, Vermont's Independent U.S. Senator who is a self-proclaimed socialist. Sanders has caucused with the Democrats since he arrived in Washington, D.C., in 1991 as Vermont's U.S. Representative. He was elected to the Senate in 2006.

He doesn't have a chance against the Clinton machine, but it will be interesting to watch nonetheless. At least Sanders is willing to say what he really is.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Coburn still being felt: NFL to drop tax-exempt status


Although he is no longer in the U.S. Senate, Tom Coburn's influence is still being felt. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sent out a memo today that announced the league's office is dropping their tax-exempt status.

Several years ago, Dr. Coburn began to push for eliminating tax-exempt status for professional sports organizations. The status made it into editions of Coburn's annual Wastebook catalogue of wasteful government spending. Since Coburn's retirement, a growing number of members of Congress have taken the issue up.

Goodell called the tax-exempt status "a distraction", and said dropping it would not greatly affect operations at the NFL's central office.

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 SoonerPolitics.org, 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

Map
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.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Meet the Candidates: John T. Lewis, OKGOP Vice-Chair hopeful

John T. Lewis, 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 Brogdon, Pam Pollard, Dave Weston.

First up of the vice-chair candidates, we have John T. Lewis.

1.       Tell us a little bit about your personal side (i.e. family, church, occupational background, etc.)
I have two wonderful grown children who are married and I am hoping I will have a grandchild on the way someday soon!  I was a full time Minister for many years and a graduate of a Theology school. My wife and I live in Ardmore, Oklahoma and we believe that trying our best to live Jesus’ words of loving God and our fellow man are the greatest good we can do for government and society.  I have spent time in territory sales and until recently I owned a construction and remodeling company.  I have a B.S. degree in Business.

2.       What involvement have you had in the past with the Republican Party (from precinct-level to RNC)? If possible, include approximate dates.
My public political involvement goes back about a year and a half ago when I decided to attend a county committee meeting.  I was soon appointed to precinct vice chair and then chair after the chair vacated that position.  I worked closely with the county Republican Party when I ran for Carter County Treasurer in 2014.  Early this year I was elected to precinct 31 chair and I attend and participate in the monthly meetings of the party.  I believe my greatest contribution to the county party has been with my chairmanship of the Oklahoma Legislative Review.  Once a month during the Oklahoma legislative session, we look at bills as they move through the political process.  We ask questions like, “Does this bill limit government or does it grow government?”  We want to know if it takes (by governmental force) money from one group and gives it to another or if it somehow reduces personal liberty.  I believe this has sparked interest in many folks here in Carter County.  They feel empowered to make a difference when they see how legislation and legislators really work.

3.       Do you currently hold any Republican Party office?
Yes, I am currently Republican chairman of precinct 31 in Carter County Oklahoma. 

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.
In 2014 I launched a campaign to run for Carter County Treasurer.  I was the first Republican in the county to ever run for this office.  Although I came up a little short, it taught me so much about politics, about working with people, and about how to do the right thing regardless of pressure from others.  I have never held an elected public office. 

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 am excited about attending my very first State GOP convention in 2015!  I became publicly involved in politics in early 2014.  The history of the conventions indicates I missed out on some important things, but I look forward to participating in this one and many more to come.
6.       What prompted you to run for this office?
Leadership within the Republican Party, from the RNC to the State GOP, has given us candidates and elected leaders which most don’t actually prefer in Oklahoma.  They are the moderates and the middle of the road Republicans who make our stomach turn when we think that they are no different than middle of the road Democrats.  These are the wishy-washy candidates the Republican leadership in DC has given us, yet State GOP leadership has proven that they wish to push only these same candidates of moderation just like their counterparts on the national level.  Folks around these parts lean toward those who are truly conservative; ones who are actively seeking ways to slash the size of government and who wish only to let people be free to enjoy their lives without more and more government oversight and regulation. 
This is why I decided to throw my name in the hat.  I believe leadership needs to listen to the Republican people of this State (from the bottom up) rather than trying to manipulate the system so that we will nominate their kind of candidates every single time.  When I saw the progress of SB233, which might have changed the presidential primary date in Oklahoma, this motivated me further.  It would have discouraged voters even more than they already are.  I stood opposed to this bill all along.  My opponent, however, would not take a stand on SB233 when asked about it in public forum at Canadian County, Oklahoma.  This left me and several other listeners with the impression that she would not share her opinion because she currently works with State Chairman Dave Weston who pushed the bill.  Unfortunately, therefore, my opponent is a part of this same establishment which will push only candidates of moderation in the future and not give others the fair chance they deserve to be heard and voted upon by the people of our State.

7.       What are your top priorities if elected as Vice-Chair?
I believe any elected leader should represent the people of the Party not the wishes of the higher-ups who sometimes seek to grow the party in their own way to the exclusion of those with differing views.  My emphasis and top priority will be to ensure that the conservative voice gets a fair shake before the people of Oklahoma.  Since a great percentage of our State leans in the conservative direction, we should offer that voice the opportunity to have the spotlight in our State party.  Another priority I have is for the general public to be more informed to the way current state legislators vote so that they can make better voting decisions themselves.   Let the chips fall where they may, but allowing people to know how their legislators perform and what they do can only produce a government more focused on limiting government, maximizing liberty, and promoting personal responsibility.

8.       What do you view as your top duties as Vice-Chair?
In addition to attending the necessary meetings and fighting for a conservative voice at the table, the Vice Chair should use the position as a way which will help strengthen the party for the future.  While I believe growing the party is of utter importance, increasing knowledge of what legislators do is even more important.  An educated party will naturally grow the party on its own.  Thus, as Vice Chair I feel my duty will be to tour the state and help Republicans on the local level to understand what conservative politics is all about and to examine how some elected leaders don’t live up to the campaign promises they make.  If a bill grows government or violates a principle of liberty, then I believe it is the responsibility of party leadership to inform voters of this so that they are in a better position to vote based upon real facts and real knowledge.  

9.       List some of the individuals who are publicly supporting your candidacy that delegates might recognize.
This one is difficult for me because I am not a political insider.  I have political friends all over the state but have not talked with most of them about whether they specifically support my candidacy or not.  My friend Howard Houchen in Hugo supports my run as does Larry Cotton of Lawton but most of my support comes from my home area of Carter County where folks may not be well known, but they are dedicated nonetheless.    My hope, of course, is that voters look at where I stand and not who I know when they vote. 

10.    Here's your closing statement - cover whatever you want to talk about (250 words or less).
I was asked not long ago in public forum about if I believe the Republican Party is facing an identity crisis.  I believe it is.  The reason for this is because there is a disconnect between party leadership on the national and state level and the Republican people of our state.  Leadership often promotes candidates who don’t look much different than their Democrat counterparts, while the people of our State are seeking more conservative leaders.  I intend to bring to the table an attitude which allows all candidates to have a chance at leadership.  It is high time for us to elect not just Republicans but also the right kind of Republicans.   We are the party of limited government and less government intrusion.  If I am elected Vice Chair, I will make it my aim to deliver the kind of conservative candidates the people of our state desire.
Thanks for participating, John!

I hope to post the survey from the other vice-chair candidate, Estela Hernandez, in the next day or so. In the meantime, you can view the Chair candidates' surveys at these links: Randy BrogdonPam PollardDave Weston.

Lankford speaking at Muskogee GOP Dinner on Thursday



U.S. Senator James Lankford will be speaking in Muskogee on Thursday (April 9th) at a dinner hosted by the Muskogee County Republican Party. Lankford was elected Oklahoma newest senator in November, replacing Muskogee’s own Dr. Tom Coburn after Coburn resigned before his term ended.

Lankford will be addressing the annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner, which will include a tribute to Dr. Coburn and the presentation of multiple college scholarships to local students. Advance tickets are available for $30 (mail a check with this form and call 918-869-6012 to RSVP), while tickets at the door will be $40.

The public is invited to attend.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Rand Paul wins '2016 GOP Primary Madness'


Our 2016 GOP Primary Madness has now come to a close, and the champion 'chosen by the people' is Rand Paul. After racking up wins all the way through five rounds, Paul smashed Ted Cruz in the final matchup with a vote of 384 (92%) to 33 (8%). We had votes cast in 45 states, and Rand Paul won all of them except Oklahoma, interestingly enough.


The winner of our 2012 GOP Primary Madness -- Mitt Romney -- ended up as the actual 2012 GOP nominee. In our 2013 version of 2016 GOP Primary Madness, Sarah Palin defeated Rand Paul by an almost identical margin as Paul just beat Cruz with.

Thanks for participating in our GOP Primary Madness tournament! Next year, we'll see if the 'voters' were right.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Bill to move 2016 Presidential Primary dies in committee

SB233, which would have moved Oklahoma's Presidential Primary from the first Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in April fourth Tuesday in March (they amended it back to the original wording), has been defeated in the State House Elections & Ethics Committee this morning.

The vote was 2 in favor, 5 opposed. The bill had been advocated for by OKGOP Chairman Dave Weston, but received strong opposition from many grassroots activists. Both Randy Brogdon and Pam Pollard, who are running against Weston for OKGOP Chair, were against the measure.

Voting in favor of the bill were Reps. Banz (R) and Joyner (R). Voting against it were Reps. Condit (D), Dank (R), Perryman (D), Rogers (R), and Wesselhoft (R).

This is a victory for keeping Oklahoma more engaged and relevant in the 2016 presidential primary.