2017 Oklahoma Republican State Convention: Afternoon session

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Continued from previous entry:

After a delicious catered barbecue lunch, the convention was called back to order at about 1:15 pm. With officer elections out of the way, surely we could get through the remaining order of business -- seven proposed amendments to the state party rules, a resolution, and the platform -- in two or three hours. Not quite.

Proposed rule change 1 (17 (d) 6): Requiring convention rules committee to submit its report to county chairman two weeks before the convention. This was defeated by a voice vote, following a claim that the rules already required 10 days notice, a claim that seems to be based on rule 20 (d) 2, which applies to proposed amendments to permanent state rules.

Proposed rule change 2 (new subsection of 17(d): Requiring convention rules committee to make recommendations on proposed amendments to the permanent rules. The wording and placement generated some confusion, and the proponent wasn't present to explain his intentions. After too much time taken by debate in the guise of questions, the motion was defeated by a voice vote.

Proposed rule changes 3 and 4: Two separate proposals to remove the last vestiges of sex distinction from the state party rules. Previous conventions had revoked the requirement for chairman and vice chairman to be of opposite sexes. This proposal replaced state committeeman and woman and district committeeman and woman from each county with two state committee members and two district committee members. Proposed change 3 was defeated as less comprehensive than change 4. Change 4 passed by voice vote, but some delegates spoke against it, believing that this was not the cultural moment to obliterate all distinctions between the sexes. The Oklahoma GOP move toward eliminating sex distinctions arose in reaction to the Left's push for "affirmative action" and diversity enforced through strict quotas in the Democrat party.

Proposed rule change 5: This rule would have created a new rule, requiring the state chairman to ask Republican candidates for president or for Oklahoma statewide or federal office to identify the planks in the Oklahoma Republican platform with which they agree:

The Oklahoma Republican Party State Chairman, in the interest of informing the voting public during primary elections and special elections, shall request Republican candidates for President of the United States of America and Oklahoma's statewide and federal congressional elected offices to affirm which sections of the Platform of the Oklahoma Republican Party they support. This request shall be made to official candidates within ten (10) business days of the filing deadline for these offices. The deadline for candidate response is ten (10) business days from the date of the Chairman's request. This request and responses to it may be made in written, typed, or electronic form. The Platform shall be made available to the candidates in the request.

The State Chairman shall make public the candidates' responses, or failure to respond, on the Oklahoma Republican Party's website and to the press within ten (10) business days of the request deadline. The Oklahoma statewide-elected offices are Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Auditor and Inspector, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance, and Corporation Commissioner. The Oklahoma federal congressional elected offices are United States Congressman and United States Senator.

In the event that county parties conduct candidate examinations, the results of such examinations shall be delivered to the State Chairman, and the Chairman shall make public such results on the Oklahoma Republican Party's website within ten (10) business days of receiving the results.

In the event of refusal or failure of the Oklahoma Republican Party State Chairman to adhere to this rule and to discharge the obligations under this rule, any member of the Oklahoma Republican Party State Committee may call the Chairman to act and may call for a meeting of the State Committee to implement appropriate action. Refer to Rule 10.c. of the Rules of the Oklahoma Republican Party for information regarding calling a meeting of the State Committee.

For years, activists have sought to put some teeth in the platform. This is a very mild proposal that imposes no obligations on candidates, nor does it withhold any party resources from candidates who refuse to participate. It simply requires the state chairman to put the platform before the candidates, allowing them to identify those planks with which they agree, and then to publish their replies.

Nevertheless, most of those who do politics as a living -- lobbyists, consultants, staffers -- seem to see any intrusion of principle into politics as a threat to their bosses and thus to their own livelihoods. LePetomane's Imperative applies: "Officia nostra phoney-baloney defendenda sunt!"

Despite the frantic arguments by the politics-as-a-living crowd, the motion appeared to pass in a voice vote, but it was close. A standing vote followed, and once again the ayes appeared to have it. Someone raised the point of order that, because of county vote weighting, counting heads wasn't sufficient to determine the outcome according to the rules. A roll call vote would be necessary.

Cleveland and Oklahoma Counties went narrowly against. Tulsa County was about 2-to-1 in favor. The final weighted tally was 500.733 votes in favor, 502.267 votes against. The result, on the summary page of the spreadsheet, was displayed on the big video screens, along with the result from the chairman's election roll call earlier. Then people noticed something odd: The total number of weighted votes in the result from the chairman's election (677 -- Pollard 468.566, Aery 208.434) was lower than the number in the vote on Rule Change 5 (1003), even though it was obvious that many delegates had left at lunch time and fewer people were voting. Something was wrong, somewhere.

Not long thereafter, the big screens went dark. I went upstairs to where the computer operator was sitting, and where Pam Pollard and a few others had gathered to figure out what was going on. I was going up to suggest that showing the raw and weighted totals and the county vote weights on the screens would either reveal miscalculations or dispel concerns.

I won't get into details at this point -- there are a dozen or more people, including myself, who are independently scrutinizing the spreadsheet and in the near future there will be a report -- but I can tell you that an error was found in the chairman's race spreadsheet which did not change the outcome although it did narrow the result. The correct weighted tally was Pollard 908.604, Aery 631.396. I can also tell you that the Rule Change 5 tally was accurate. The raw vote was 257-256, but some of the "yes" votes had a lighter weight, because those counties had a higher proportion of their authorized delegates present. In one case, a county -- Cimarron -- had more delegates present than authorized votes, so its unanimous four delegates in favor translated to only two yes votes.

Proposed Rule Change 6: Convention Chairman Josh Cockroft ruled that because proposed Rule Change 6 was similar to Rule Change 5, it was now moot. In fact, although both have to do with candidates and the platform, RC6 was a substantively different proposal:

Rule 19.(i) Disclosure of Agreement of Candidates with Our Platform: For a Republican candidate for elective office to receive the endorsement and support of the Oklahoma Republican Party, he must read and mark up a copy of the current Oklahoma Republican Platform, indicating his agreement or disagreement with each plank with explanation as necessary, and make it available for review at the state Party office.

Proposed Rule Change 7: This simplified and clarified the rules for giving a proxy for voting in the State Committee (the governing body of the state party between conventions), passed by a voice vote.

Abortion ban resolution: By a convincing voice vote, the convention approved a resolution that directs an official statement by the state party to the governor, state legislators, and statewide officials calling on these officials to make abortion illegal in Oklahoma and to enforce such a law. The effect would be to set up an opportunity for the U. S. Supreme Court to vacate Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, recognizing those decisions as unconstitutional forays into legislating from the bench.

Platform: As 5 pm approached, we were ready to consider the platform, but late-arriving lobbyist Seth Rott made a point of order that a quorum was no longer present. A head count turned up 355 delegates, 59 shy of the required 50% of the initial count of 827. (It wouldn't surprise me if his incessant microphone-hogging bore some responsibility for the afternoon's proceedings dragging out to the point where delegates had to leave for other commitments.) While the convention rules prohibited a motion to adjourn prior to consideration of the platform, they didn't prohibit a quorum call, and perhaps in future years the should.

So that was it for the 2017 Oklahoma Republican Convention. As we gathered up to leave, an exhausted and heartbroken platform committee member from Tulsa County told me he had been up for 36 hours straight. He had given up two Saturdays to come to Oklahoma City to work on the platform and had been up all night the night before the convention to deal with news of a brother in another state who had suffered a heart attack, trying to decide if he needed to travel right away. Having decided that he could stay, he came to the convention, despite the lack of sleep, to be sure that all of the committee's hard work would come to fruition. He believed that this platform was a great improvement over the previously adopted document and was beyond disgusted that this selfish lobbyist would throw all of their hard work out the window.

The premature end of the convention also prevented a vote on a party mission statement proposed by Canadian County Chairman Andrew Lopez. More on that in a later entry.


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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 11, 2017 10:48 PM.

Tressa Nunley for Oklahoma House 75 was the previous entry in this blog.

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