Re-elect Oklahoma GOP chairman Gary Jones

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Red Dirt Report has a story about the recent debate in Muskogee between Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Gary Jones and Vice Chairman Cheryl Williams, who is running to unseat Jones. Muskogee Politico has the video of the debate.

Gary Jones was first elected chairman in 2002, after Chad Alexander's resignation. Gary had come close to beating Jeff McMahan in 2002 for State Auditor, and he saw how the GOP's urban and suburban approach to state issues hurt the party in rural Oklahoma. That motivated him to run for chairman. Jones was re-elected to a full term in 2003 and 2005, resigned in 2006 to run again for State Auditor, then reclaimed the chairmanship in 2007 in a three-way race.

Since 2002, Jones has implemented a successful strategy to recruit and elect Republican candidates to the legislature and county office in parts of the state where, just a few decades before, you wouldn't even find a Republican running for office. Term limits helped, to be sure, but Republicans still had to put forward good candidates and get their message to the voters.

In 2004 and 2008, Jones instituted the 72-hour Task Force get-out-the-vote effort in Oklahoma. The result both years was all 77 counties voting for the Republican presidential nominee, big wins for the U. S. Senate candidate, and gains in the state legislature -- winning the State Senate in 2008 for the first time in Oklahoma history.

Jones fell short in his second run for auditor, but in the process he helped the FBI uncover evidence that led to Jeff McMahan's Federal conviction for "conspiracy to commit 'dishonest public service mail fraud' and [for] racketeering through illicit interstate travel." McMahan reported to Federal prison on Friday. Here is Jones's summary of the scandal involving McMahan, Mike Mass, Gene Stipe, and Steve Phipps.

Under Jones's leadership, the Oklahoma Republican Party has had great success and is poised to regain the governorship and statewide offices.

I don't want to say too much about his opponent, Cheryl Williams. I first encountered her in 1999, when I served as parliamentarian to the state platform committee. My recollection is that Williams, not a member of the committee that year, stormed in to demand a hearing for a resolution, bypassing the normal process. She did not make a good first impression on me; it wasn't what she was doing as much as the attitude with which she did it.

Perhaps the best way to describe Cheryl Williams is as the Hyacinth Bucket of the Oklahoma Republican Party. I know many party activists who have worked with her and dread ever having to do so again. I was stunned when she beat Dana Murphy in 2007 for vice chairman; I couldn't imagine that party activists would want to deal with Williams for the next two years. I believe Murphy, the incumbent, was defeated by her own diligence -- she put all her effort into planning the convention and making sure it was successful, while Williams focused on lobbying delegates for their votes.

But it really doesn't matter who is running against Gary Jones. Here is a state chairman with a solid record of conservative principle and electoral achievement. The Oklahoma Republican Party is fortunate that he is willing to continue in this role, and we ought to re-elect him on April 18.

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4 Comments

Amen! Very well put, on all fronts.

Richard! If my Sheridan were here he'd be appalled!

Paula said:

Richard, I hope your eyes get opened to the truth. Gary Jones Manipulates the truth to get his people and agenda elected. Please investigate his views and info about anyone that he is demonizing. You will usually find he is decieving you. I wish him no harm, I am just saddened how he has decieved the masses and even you. And as for you not wanting to say much about Cheryl Williams, You said way too much and you do not really know her. Again you are listening to Mr.Jones and his crowed. Not very unbiased reporting. I truly ask you to search your heart and Gary Jones'also.

Who's Richard? My name's Michael. If you don't get the joke, watch OETA on Sunday nights at 10:30.

Re-read the story. I met Cheryl Williams in 1999. I didn't get to know Gary Jones until 2002. Cheryl Williams's behavior, which I witnessed first-hand, shaped my opinion of her. It has been reinforced by her later actions, including the way she trashed Dana Murphy in her run to unseat Dana as vice chairman in 2007.

Gary Jones didn't tell me what to think about Cheryl Williams. Cheryl Williams did.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 31, 2009 12:41 PM.

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