Randy Brogdon for Oklahoma Republican Chairman

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UPDATE: Jamison Faught reports on Twitter that on the first ballot Brogdon finished first but short of a majority, and incumbent chairman Weston was eliminated -- Brogdon 47.45, Pollard 29.11, Weston 23.43. Brogdon won the second ballot over Pollard, 53.35% to 46.65%. Estela Hernandez was elected vice chairman with 58.12% of the vote.

As with the Tulsa County Republican Convention last month, a very busy period in my personal and professional life makes it impossible for me to attend the 2015 Oklahoma State Republican Convention tomorrow. If I were there, I'd vote for former State Sen. Randy Brogdon for party chairman.

This probably won't surprise anyone. I endorsed and knocked doors for Brogdon for Governor in 2010 and to fill Tom Coburn's Senate seat in 2014. Randy Brogdon is a man of principle who served and led faithfully on the Owasso City Council and the Oklahoma State Senate. As I wrote in 2014:

Brogdon, a small-business owner in the heat and air industry, was elected in 1998 to the Owasso City Council and was elected as Mayor by his fellow city councilors. In 2002 he was elected to the State Senate, serving two terms and earning the highest ratings possible from conservative groups.

Brogdon was the leading advocate for the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights (TABOR) initiative, a popular measure that was scuttled by special interest litigation. He led the effort to pull Oklahoma out of the effort to build the eminent domain nightmare known as the NAFTA Superhighway through the state. A champion for privacy rights, he led Oklahoma to opt out of the Real ID Act. In 2010, he authored SQ 756, the Oklahoma Healthcare Freedom Amendment. He was one of the few Republican elected officials with the courage to stand consistently with grassroots Tulsa County Republicans against ill-considered boondoggles funded by sales tax increases.

Two other candidates are actively campaigning for the job: David Weston, the incumbent, and Pam Pollard, head of the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women.

Pollard is an energetic leader, a hard worker, a networker, and an organizer. I've enjoyed working with her over the years, and there's no question she would be up to the nuts-and-bolts aspects of the chairman's job. But there's another aspect to the job, which I'll address a bit later, where I think Brogdon has the edge in the current climate.

I appreciated Weston's lobbying efforts against the disastrous National Popular Vote bill, although in the aftermath, I wish he'd sought to obtain commitments from Republican candidates to block the proposal in the future.

I was not pleased to hear of Weston's efforts to lobby for a delay in Oklahoma's presidential primary. In 2012, our early primary date brought all the candidates to Oklahoma. My kids got to hear Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum speak in person at ORU. Although the early date meant that Oklahoma's delegates were allocated proportionately -- and so Santorum's win here didn't translate into an overwhelming number of delegates -- the win gave a boost to a candidate in tune with the values and priorities of Oklahoma Republicans. That helped him stay in the race and keep his issues in the spotlight -- including the need for a strong American presence in the world and the need to .

A later primary date would make Oklahoma winner-take-all, making our state a slightly bigger prize in delegate count (although still awfully small), but it mean that you and I would get to pick from whichever establishment types were left after open primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina filtered out all the grassroots conservatives.

Weston's case for a later primary date is arguable, but his advocacy riled activists because he spoke on behalf of the state party without consulting the State Committee. The committee, which serves as the party's governing body between conventions, consists of the Chairman and Vice Chairmen and two State Committee members from each county, plus statewide, congressional, and legislative elected officials ex officio. The group is supposed to meet at least once a quarter.

On the National Popular Vote issue, Weston had a strong mandate to speak out on behalf of the party -- clear party platform planks and a unanimous RNC vote to condemn the idea. That mandate was missing from the primary date debate. Although several State Committee meetings had been held recently, Weston never sought the committee's authorization to endorse the later primary date on the party's behalf.

Both Pam Pollard and Randy Brogdon spoke out against the early primary date, with Brogdon addressing the House Elections Committee considering the bill. Brogdon pledges, if elected, to to seek the State Committee's endorsement before speaking out on such issues.

When Brogdon called me a few months ago to talk about the race, I was a bit underwhelmed. His focus was on party building and organization and the need to reach out to groups that aren't typically considered Republican, which is all well and good. I didn't hear any talk from him (or the other two candidates) about my priority for our party leaders: To hold elected officials accountable for carrying out the party's principles and policies and to protect the Republican brand. In Oklahoma, the biggest obstacle to the implementation of Republican policies comes from Republicans who wear the name but don't understand or adhere to the principles the party professes. A party chairman can serve as the grassroots' lobbyist to counteract the presence of special-interest spokesmen at the State Capitol. Although it wasn't a role he identified as a priority, I think Brogdon's experience and temperament would make him the most likely of the three candidates to speak out when elected Republicans betray the principles and policies they ran on.

Because of his years of service in elected office, Randy Brogdon will be sympathetic to the pressures weighing on elected officials. At the same time, he has a record of accomplishment as an elected official that shows you don't have to compromise your principles to get things done. He's in a position to refute the lame excuses of officials who always want to put off courageous decisions until after the next election.

At the County Convention, the race was so close that my unavoidable absence cost my preferred candidate the election. I hope that won't be the case on Saturday.

MORE: Muskogee Politico Jamison Faught has detailed surveys from each of the announced candidates for chairman (Randy Brogdon, Pam Pollard, David Weston) and vice chairman (Estela Hernandez, John T. Lewis, ). And he asked some follow-up questions of the candidates for chairman.

STILL MORE: Dewey Bartlett Jr, who endorsed liberal Democrat Kathy Taylor for re-election as Tulsa's mayor, thinks Dave Weston should be re-elected as OKGOP chairman.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 10, 2015 8:19 AM.

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