Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2016 GOP Primary Madness Championship

Ted Cruz, or Rand Paul? Let the Championship begin! The poll will be open until Saturday, April 4th. If there are any problems with the voting, please leave a comment, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

After you vote, click on "See Detailed Results" underneath the poll for a map of the voting by state.

2016 GOP Primary Madness Championship

2016 GOP Primary Madness, Final Four Results

The Final Four of our 2016 GOP Primary Madness has come to a close, and here are the results (with links for state-by-state details on the voting):

Division 'A' vs. Division 'B'

Division 'C' vs. Division 'D'

The two remaining junior U.S. Senators defeated the two remaining Governors. 2-seed Rand Paul blasted Jan Brewer out of the water, getting 91% to her 9%. Fellow 2-seed Ted Cruz had a tougher run, beating Scott Walker 61% to 39%.

Championship round voting will start shortly.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

OKGOP Chair Candidates answer more questions

OKGOP Chair candidates Randy Brogdon, Pam Pollard, and incumbent Dave Weston

In just under two weeks, delegates to the 2015 Oklahoma Republican Party State Convention will be electing the head of the OKGOP for the next two years. Three candidates are running, and each have filled out a survey for MuskogeePolitico.com which has previously been posted: former state senator Randy Brogdon (survey here), OFRW President Pam Pollard (survey here), and incumbent Dave Weston (survey here).

I emailed each of the candidates two follow-up questions on Friday the 20th, requesting them to send me their responses within a week, and limited to 300 words each answer. Candidates Brogdon and Pollard sent me their answers, which are posted below. If/when chairman Weston sends his in, I will add it to this post.

1. What is, or will be, your policy on State Party involvement in active federal or state legislation? What criteria do or will you have in influencing measures awaiting legislative consideration? Examples: the Party has in the past argued against bills for non-partisan county election or for certain other measures, and the State Committee has requested action on anti-Common Core bills.

Brogdon: Any policy positions made officially on behalf of the OKGOP should not be done unilaterally by the Chairman or decided upon exclusively by the Executive Committee. Much like the anti-Common Core resolution, which I support 100%, any policy position should originate from within the State Committee meetings. There should be open discussion, debated, and then the position should be voted upon. I believe when we allow for the discussion of our ideas amongst our Republican friends, we will become a stronger and more unified party.

 According to State Party Rules the “State Committee is the supreme Republican Party authority of the state Republican Party, subject to these rules and the direction and control of the State Convention”. While on the other hand the Executive Committee “shall at all times act in an advisory capacity to the State Chairman, and shall confer with said chairman and offer such plans and suggestions as will serve and advance the best interests of the Party not inconsistent with these rules”. I believe the rules of the State Party are clear and they fully support my position on this issue. If elected as your next State Party Chairman, I will ensure that the rules of our Party are once again respected and upheld.

Pollard: I have spoken all over our great state about the need for a solid foundation of the Republican Party; a foundation that is firm enough to hold many different ideologies. This foundation is made up of our US Constitution, State Constitution, State Party Rules and our State Party Platform. While the role of State Party Chairman is not a lobbyist position, I will defend our Party when legislation has a direct threat on destroying our foundation.

One role of the Chair is to carry out the directives of the State Executive Committee or the State Committee. I will proudly carry the GOP banner in defense of issues as directed by our grassroots representation on these committees. Our current platform is made of 42 pages of planks sent from the counties or retained on the current document. While this is a collection of our beliefs, it is the voters and grassroots activists who hold our elected officials accountable, not the State Chairman. If elected, my role according to State Party Rules is to organize county parties, win elections and raise the dollars necessary to fund the work of the Party. That is where my focus will be.

2. SB233 passed the State Senate and is awaiting a hearing in the State House. SB233 would move Oklahoma's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March (March 1st) to the fourth Tuesday in March (March 22nd). This would move Oklahoma from an early spot in the primary calendar to a late one (approx. 20 states vote after March 22nd). Do you support moving the primary further back in the calendar?

Brogdon: I do not support any such move that would place Oklahoma at the back of the primary schedule. Not only will moving our primary into no man’s land diminish Oklahoma’s role in the national debate, but I believe it will also discourage participation and disenfranchise Republican voters. Oklahoma is the reddest state in the Union and every presidential candidate should feel obligated to visit with our voters. However, when we allow attempts to move our primary date as far back as April 1st, we are essentially saying that Oklahoma should not matter to these candidates. If anything, we should be fighting for an earlier primary date, not a later one. If I were the State Chairman today, I would take all of these arguments to the State Committee and ask them to call on the entire Elections & Ethics House Committee, Chaired by Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, to kill this bill.

Pollard: I serve on the State Executive Committee and spoke against moving the date of the Presidential Preference Primary (PPP). The main discussion at the meeting was Oklahoma’s ability to be a Winner-Take-All (WTA) state which by RNC rules would require us to change the date of our PPP to after March 15th. If we wish to remain a proportional state we do nothing, our current law meets RNC guidelines.

I am a firm believer that elections are about the voice of the people and with a winner-take-all system a majority of voters are often left without delegate representation. In the last PPP election Oklahomans were closely divided with no candidate receiving a majority of the votes.

2012 OK PPP results= Santorum 34% Romney 28% Gingrich 27%

If we had been a WTA state in 2012 a candidate receiving only 34% of the vote would have been awarded 100% of the delegates. This is the primary reason I support Proportional Representation in Presidential Preference Primary elections.

As State Vice-Chair in 2012 I was in charge of presidential candidates Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and the 2nd Mitt Romney visits to OK. My conversations with these candidates and their staff,was in strong support of early primaries and proportional awarding of delegates. If they did not poll in the top 10% they would not come to our state as they had little hope of any delegate votes. A proportional system allows very close election results to receive almost equal delegates. The voice of the people matter!

My thanks to the candidates for responding to these additional questions!

Friday, March 27, 2015

2016 GOP Primary Madness, Final Four

Let the 'Final Four' begin! The polls will be open until Tuesday, March 31st. If there are any problems with the voting, please leave a comment, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Click on "See Detailed Results" underneath each poll for a map of the voting by state.

Final Four: Division 'A' vs. Division 'B'

Final Four: Division 'A' vs. Division 'B'

2016 GOP Primary Madness, Elite Eight Results

The Elite Eight of our 2016 GOP Primary Madness has come to a close, and here are the results (with links for state-by-state details on the voting):

Division 'A'

Division 'B'

Division 'C'

Division 'D'

7-seed Jan Brewer once again defeated a higher-ranked opponent, this time 4-seed Ohio Governor John Kasich (59%-41%). 567 votes were cast in that matchup, all states except DE, MT, and WY. 622 votes were cast in Division A, with 641 in Division B -- both had votes from every state except DE and WY.

Division D has the greatest amount of votes cast, at 931, from every state except Wyoming. As with the previous round, several pro-Sarah Palin and pro-Rand Paul sites got involved. I received some emails from individuals in both camps, complaining of "voter fraud" by the other side. The settings on the polls I use restrict voting to one-vote-per-IP-address; however, "where there's a will, there's a way", and if someone is determined enough to try, they usually can find a way around the "rules". That said, this is an unscientific poll done for fun, so just relax.

'Final Four' voting will start shortly.

UPDATE: Vote in the Final Four here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

2016 GOP Primary Madness, Elite Eight

Let the 'Elite Eight' begin! The polls will be open until Friday, March 27th. If there are any problems with the voting, please leave a comment, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Click on "See Detailed Results" underneath each poll for a map of the voting by state.

Division 'A', Elite Eight

Division 'B', Elite Eight

Division 'C', Elite Eight

Division 'D', Elite Eight

Update: View the results here.

2016 GOP Primary Madness, Sweet Sixteen Results

The Sweet Sixteen of our 2016 GOP Primary Madness has come to a close, and here are the results (with links for more details on the voting):

Division 'A'

Division 'B'

Division 'C'

Division 'D'

The closest race was also the biggest upset: 3-seed Paul Ryan (49%) falling to 7-seed Jan Brewer (51%). Brewer previously defeated a 2-seed (Chris Christie). Rand Paul had the highest percentage (81%).

Voting increased exponentially in this round; pro-Sarah Palin and pro-Rand Paul sites got involved, resulting in 800-1,100 votes being cast this round. Click on the above links for state-by-state breakdowns of the voting.

I plan to have voting in the 'Elite Eight' start sometime this evening.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

2016 GOP Primary Madness: Sweet Sixteen

OKGOP Candidates speaking to Muskogee GOP tonight

The Muskogee County Republicans & Conservatives Club is resuming monthly meetings tonight. The meeting will start at 7pm at the Muskogee Public Library in the Grant Foreman Room (2nd floor). Invited to speak are the candidates for Oklahoma Republican Party chair and vice chair; local Republican elected officials will be present to give updates as well.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2016 GOP Primary Madness, Round 1 Results

Oklahoma should not move Presidential Primary back

On March 3rd, the Oklahoma State Senate passed SB233 by a vote of 39-2. The measure would move Oklahoma's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in March to the fourth Tuesday in March. This would move the 2016 primary from March 1st to March 22nd, 2016.

Moving the primary back to March 22nd would allow - under RNC rules - for the state's delegates to be awarded in a winner-take-all format, like they were in 2008, as opposed to the proportional method used in 2012. The argument is that by moving our election date back to allow for winner-take-all, Oklahoma will have more influence on the primary. I disagree.

Moving from March 1st to March 22nd would put 15-20 additional states ahead of us in the schedule. As things stand right now, with a March 1st date for Oklahoma, only about five or six states are ahead of us (IA/NH/SC/NV plus maybe CO/NC). On March 1st, around 10-15 states are likely to vote, including large states like Texas and Florida.

If we move our primary to March 22nd, about half of the states will have already voted, and the nominee will likely be decided. Staying at March 1st allows us to have some relevance in the race.

I urge the State House to vote SB233 down. Contact your legislators here and ask them to vote against SB233, and keep a March 1st presidential primary.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

2016 GOP Primary Madness: Round 1

Continuing our odd-year March tradition, once again we bring to you MuskogeePolitico.com's GOP Primary Madness! The 2011 version accurately picked Mitt Romney as the 2012 GOP nominee, and in 2013 voters picked Sarah Palin. Who will win this round? That's up to you!

(click image to view larger)

Ladies and gentlemen, voting is now open! The polls will be open until Wednesday, March 18th. If there are any problems with the voting, please leave a comment, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Division 'A'

Division 'B'

Division 'C'

Division 'D'

UPDATE: See the results here.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Samaritan Ministries works: our experience

As I have shared several times on my blog, my wife and I are members of Samaritan Ministries, a Christian health-care sharing ministry. A non-insurance alternative to traditional health insurance, health-care sharing ministries like Samaritan Ministries are exempt from the mandates and penalties of ObamaCare.

Health-care sharing ministries have some similarities to "normal" health insurance, but some very big differences, as well. Each involves a monthly cost, costs and payments for specific healthcare needs, and some paperwork. Health-care sharing ministries differ from insurance in a legal sense, as they are completely voluntary and not binding like insurance policies (see the legal disclaimers here). In Samaritan Ministries' case, we send our monthly "Share" directly to individuals with a "Need", as opposed to sending it to a "middle-man" to be distributed. It's fairly easy to understand the setup, and really not any more complicated than insurance (one could argue it's much simpler).

For my wife and I, Samaritan Ministries is an affordable option, with the added benefit of not subsidizing actions and lifestyles that go against our beliefs (like abortion, for instance). Also, it's a blessing to help other Christians in their time of need, and receive the same in return.

To keep this post shorter, I'm not going to go into all the specific details on how Samaritan Ministries works, but you can read more of what I've written here. On that page, I answer questions like why we do health-care sharing, who can be members, how the shares/needs process work, and what the cost is.

For the nearly two years we've been members, we have been blessed to have no medical needs. Our involvement with Samaritan Ministries has been limited to our monthly Shares, which we have mailed to members across the country with needs. Needs we have helped to cover have varied from heart conditions, a child with a broken leg, and costs associated with pregnancy and childbirth. Samaritan Ministries sends us the member's name, address, a description of their need, and we are encouraged to send a card along with our check, as well as to pray for them.

All of that has changed. We are now getting to see the other side of the process, as my wife is expecting a child, due this summer. Yes, big changes are fixing to come to the Faught household! 

When a member has a medical need, you request and receive a Need Processing Form from Samaritan Ministries. You then fill out the form, which includes details about the medical need, a list of medical bills, and a section for your pastor to fill out verifying that the need is valid and vouching for your character. 

Once filled out, you mail the form to the Samaritan Ministries headquarters for processing.

It usually takes about 30 to 60 days before your Need gets assigned to members for sharing. For maternity needs, if you have a bill or even an official estimate of the bill, you can submit your Need even before the bill is officially due. 

For example, my wife and I were able to get our bill up front with the costs of the services we will be using. Even though the invoice is not yet due, we were able to submit it to Samaritan Ministries to have the need shared "ahead of schedule", so to speak. If we have additional costs that were not included, we can submit an "Add-On Form" with the other bills for another round of sharing. Our need met the requirements for 100% of the bill to be assigned for sharing (no $300 personal responsibility).

Once your Need has been received and processed by Samaritan Ministries, they will send you a list of which members will be sending their Shares to you, and how much those Shares will be. 

The next step comes when those Shares land in your mailbox. The above picture shows a some of our first Shares. As you can see, checks were not all we were sent - we also received cards and notes. The personal touch is really neat to receive - Samaritan Ministries is about more than just the monetary side of things, it's about Christians caring for other Christians.

In order to maintain accountability for sharing members, Samaritan Ministries provides a checklist of who is supposed to be sharing toward your need. This allows you and SMI to track and ensure that your need being met. When you receive a check, you enter that information in (either online or via a mail-in form), indicating who sent a check, when you got the payment, the check number, and even if they sent a card or note. If a member fails to follow through on their responsibility to participate, another member gets assigned to your Need.

We have been very pleased with our experience with Samaritan Ministries, and I hope that this has been helpful and informative for you. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I have a dedicated page on this blog focusing on additional details about Samaritan Ministries that I did not cover in this post.

Currently, there are well over 130,000 individuals participating in Samaritan Ministries, including nearly 2,300 here in Oklahoma. For more information about why they do, visit SamaritanMinistries.org. You can view videos, testimonials, Frequently Asked Questions, the Guidelines, the Application Form, and much more.

If you are interested in joining, I'd be more than happy to talk with you. You can call me at (918) 869-6000, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com. If you decide to join Samaritan Ministries and list me as the referring member, Samaritan Ministries gives my wife and I a credit. Obviously, that's some incentive, but regardless of that, Samaritan Ministries is a great organization. We have had a very positive experience with Samaritan Ministries, and hope that you do, too.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lankford to keynote Muskogee GOP dinner on April 9th

From the Muskogee County Republican Party:

Lincoln-Reagan Dinner to feature Sen. James Lankford
Event on Thursday, April 9th will also honor former Sen. Tom Coburn, M.D.

The 2015 Muskogee County Republican Party Lincoln-Reagan Dinner is scheduled for Thursday, April 9th, and will be featuring U.S. Senator James Lankford as our guest speaker. During the event, we will also pay tribute to Dr. Tom Coburn for his years of dedicated service in Washington, and we will hand out several $500 college scholarships to local students.

The event will begin at 6:00pm, at the Muskogee Civic Center (rooms C&D, 2nd floor). Dinner tickets will be $30 if prepaid, or $40 at the door. To pre-pay for your tickets, print this form and mail it (along with your check) to the address listed.

Individuals who would like to be Sponsors may do so for $250. Included with the sponsorship are two dinner tickets, a private reception and photo with Sen. Lankford (5:30pm-6:00pm), and a name listing in the program. Sponsorships must be reserved and paid by April 2nd. To sponsor, contact Andy Ewing at 918-869-6012 for more details.

We sincerely hope that you will choose to be a part of our 2015 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner. This event is our main fundraiser of the year, and proceeds are used to help local candidates, grow the Republican Party, and to give college scholarships to local students.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Weston endorsed by CD5 GOP Chair, Tulsa mayor Bartlett

Oklahoma Republican Party chair Dave Weston has released two endorsements in the past few days. Yesterday, he announced that 5th District GOP chair Holly Miller was supporting his re-election candidacy, and this morning Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett also jumped on board.

You can view the Bartlett endorsement here, and the Miller one here.

The 2015 Oklahoma Republican State Convention will be held on April 11th in Oklahoma City. Three candidate have announced for the state chair position: incumbent Dave Weston, former state senator Randy Brogdon, and OFRW chair Pam Pollard.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

How did the anti-Bridenstine ads stop?

Early last week, American Action Network targeted Congressman Jim Bridenstine and two other conservative Republican congressmen with radio and TV ads over the looming Homeland Security budget vote. AAN is led, in part, by the former chiefs of staff for House Speaker John Boehner and RNC chairman Reince Preibus.

Many conservatives, both in Oklahoma and across the country, were not happy, to say the least. Frustration with the GOP leadership in Washington, D.C., continues to build among the grassroots activists, and when groups with close ties to that leadership attack conservative members of Congress who are trying to correct the course in Washington, it doesn't sit well.

Enter Oklahoma Republican Party chairman Dave Weston.

Let me start this by saying that I have not publicly picked sides in the OKGOP chair race, nor have I told any of the candidates who I plan to vote for. I gave each of the candidates the same exact survey (view those here: Brogdon, Pollard, Weston), and the same opportunity to share their vision for the Party. This post is not picking sides in that race.

Evidently, Chairman Weston contacted the leadership of AAN about the Bridenstine ads. The press release on okgop.com says Wednesday, March 4th, although the OKGOP email I received was sent Thursday the 5th, same as the party's social media postings. I don't know when the conversation took place; I'm assuming sometime Wednesday.

I applaud the chairman for being proactive about defending a conservative Oklahoma congressman from attack. However, I think his role has been over-touted in this case. I've talked with some people who got the impression from the OKGOP press release that Weston was taking credit, directly or indirectly.

Here's the problem: when the ads were first announced, they were specifically going to be running on just Tuesday and Wednesday. A specific dollar amount was named, and a specific number of ads was named, in addition to specific radio programs ads would also be run on. The House then voted on and passed the DHS funding bill on Tuesday.

So here's what we have. Ads were stopping Wednesday anyway. The bill passed the House on Tuesday afternoon, making further ads pointless, as the legislation in question was on its way to the President's desk.

Did Weston play a role in stopping the ads? Considering that they were already stopping on Wednesday, plus the other points I mentioned above, I think that's stretching the facts a bit.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Former Boehner, RNC chiefs-of-staff targeting Bridenstine & other conservatives

The former chiefs of staff to House Speaker John Boehner and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus are part of a concerted effort to target House conservatives with advertisements aimed at pressuring them to cave to President Barack Obama’s executive amnesty and fund it in its entirety through the end of the fiscal year. 
“An outside group aligned with House GOP leadership will spend $400,000 this week to urge dozens of conservative House Republicans to vote for Department of Homeland Security funding — a new and more aggressive phase in the legislative battle among Republicans that’s consuming Capitol Hill,” Politico wrote about a new effort from American Action Network, a group whose board is home to power players including Boehner’s ex-chief of staff Barry Jackson and immediate previous RNC chief of staff Mike Shields. 
The massive ad buy against Republican members by Boehner’s and Priebus’ ex-top aides, pressuring conservatives to drop their strong opposition to Obama’s executive amnesty, targets three specific House Republicans: Reps. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Jim Jordan (R-OH). 
“The 30-second spot will run at least 50 times in each district — on broadcast, in prime slots — Tuesday and Wednesday as the House is expected to take up a DHS funding bill,” Politico wrote.
 AAN is one of the biggest supporters of amnesty, having lobbied Congress in favor of the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill that failed in the last Congress. Other board members include former Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), Thayer Lodging Group head and hotelier Fred Malek, former Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno, and several other lobbyists and former members of Congress from the establishment.

Read more here from Breitbart, and here from Politico.