Oklahoma: March 2009 Archives

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.

Snow fun whatsoever

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I haven't uploaded our March 28 snow day photos yet, but Don Danz has posted photos of his snowman construction effort with his boys, which was followed by a snowball fight. A follow-up entry shows what happens to a snowman in Oklahoma in March when you forget to give him a magic silk hat.

Meanwhile, way out in western Oklahoma, Sarah the Brit Gal has pictures of the considerably greater amount of snow that was dumped on them: First the blizzard in progress Friday afternoon, the snow as of midnight, what 25 inches of snow looks like, the yard and the road to town, a snow ice cream recipe, and Sunday's dig out and thaw in 72 degree weather. Sarah writes, "England you have no idea what bad snow is - OMG!"

MORE: David Schuttler has some great photos and video of the snow in Tulsa.

Oklahoma City taxpayers raised their sales tax rate to build a new state-of-the-art arena and renovate their convention center (the Myriad -- rechristened as the Cox Convention Center). The same tax built a new baseball park and a canal. A later incarnation of the same tax was used to revamp the barely-five-year-old arena to accommodate the whims of a small number of freakishly tall millionaires.

Surely all that public investment is sufficient to stimulate private investment. Surely free enterprise can handle things from here.

Not according to a consultant hired by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce:

Oklahoma City is faring well as a conference destination, but its convention center is inadequate and must be replaced if the city is to remain competitive, according to a study commissioned by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

The study by Conventions, Sports & Leisure International, released today, suggests that replacing the 38-year-old Cox Convention Center will cost between $250 million and $400 million.

Mayor Mick Cornett has suggested for the past two years that any MAPS 3 should include a new convention center as a priority project. That call is being joined by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.

No matter how much the taxpayers give them, it's never enough.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma category from March 2009.

Oklahoma: August 2008 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma: April 2009 is the next archive.

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