Oklahoma Politics: May 2017 Archives

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.


RESULTS: Tressa Nunley has won the GOP primary with 64% of the vote. Vote totals: Nunley 528, Berg 234, Steele 54, Oatsvall 8. On July 11, Nunley will face the Democrat nominee, Karen Gaddis, who won that primary over Robin Smith by a vote of 289 to 161. In central Oklahoma, the Republican nominee barely held on to House 28, the seat that was vacated by Tom Newell, who quit to go to work for the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Today, May 9, 2017, there is a special primary election in House District 75 to fill the unexpired term of Dan Kirby, who resigned in disgrace.

The turmoil we see in Oklahoma City, the failure to act decisively to cut tax giveaways to special interests and to cut wasteful government spending, is a reflection of the number of unprincipled men and women who won election by paying lip service to conservative principles but who were, in fact, selfishly seeking access to money, power, or sex. If we want to get out of this mess, we need to elect grounded men and women of tested character.

Four candidates are seeking the Republican nomination to fill the House 75 vacancy: Tressa Nunley, Nik Berg, AJ Oatsvall, and former City Councilor Skip Steele.

The basic outlines of House 75: Memorial to 193rd East Ave, 31st to 61st Streets.


If I lived in House 75, I would vote for Tressa Nunley, who has been endorsed by many of the conservative politicians I've seen do the right thing, even under pressure. People like County Assessor Ken Yazel, State Rep. George Faught, State Sen. Dave Rader, former State Rep. Pam Peterson, former DA Tim Harris, former assistant Attorney General Chris Thrutchley, and conservative activist Dan Hicks know Tressa Nunley and have endorsed her because they trust her to stick to her principles and resist the blandishments of lobbyists and bureaucrats.

Nunley also has the endorsement of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.

I should mention that Nik Berg also has the support of someone I trust, State Sen. Nathan Dahm. But because there is no runoff in a special primary election, there's a danger that principled conservatives will split the vote between two candidates and neither will advance to the general election. Because Nunley has demonstrated strong support and solid organization, the smart vote for conservatives today is for Tressa Nunley.

Polls are open until 7 p.m.

A report from Saturday's 2017 Oklahoma Republican Party state convention at Firstmoore Baptist Church in Moore in two parts:

Registration went very smoothly. I couldn't arrive until 8:30, a half hour before the end of registration and the call to order, but within 5 minutes I had my badge and was on my way into the convention hall. Kudos to David Byte, who developed and set up the credentialing computer system, and the credentials committee members that got checked everyone in so efficiently. It speaks very highly of Byte's system that there was no change between the preliminary and final credentials reports. (In contrast, at the Tulsa County convention, where paper sign-in sheets were used, many precinct chairmen and delegates had to work with the credentials committee to correct erroneous delegate counts.) 823 delegates signed in before the 9 a.m. deadline.

Another five appeared after the deadline and were given the opportunity to make their case to the convention. One latecomer was annoyed at the requirement to make his excuses to the whole convention and opted to leave. The convention voted to seat the other four, including lobbyist Seth Rott, who, I am told, lives very near the venue, but still managed to arrive 15 minutes late, wearing t-shirt and jeans. I suspect that many delegates came to regret granting Rott an indulgence, as he frequently delayed the proceedings with debate under the guise of questions and points of order, and ultimately ended the convention by making a quorum call at around 5 p.m. which prevented the platform from being approved.

First order of business was a proposed state party rule change, deferred from 2016 convention because time ran out, requiring county executive committee members to be invited to county executive committee meetings, originally proposed in 2016. The rule change was approved by voice vote.

State Chairman Pam Pollard of Oklahoma City was re-elected to a full term over Tulsa challenger Robert Aery by a vote of 908.6 to 631.4, or 59% to 41%. (County votes are weighted based on the ratio of delegates casting a vote and the authorized vote, up to a maximum weight of 2 votes per delegate.) The split was geographical: Aery, formerly with Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma, did best in Tulsa (94-36) and a couple of nearby counties, while Pollard, who has been active in the party for well over a decade, won Oklahoma County (98-52) and Cleveland County (29-25) and unanimous or near-unanimous support from many rural counties. Other than Tulsa, Aery won Alfalfa (2-0), Canadian (13-7), Comanche (8-7), Grady (10-5), Harper (1-0), Kay (6-3), Kingfisher (2-1), Muskogee (9-7), Rogers (11-9), Stephens (16-2), and Washington (13-9). In Tulsa County, Aery had support from members of both the politics-is-a-living and the politics-is-about-principle factions here.

The campaign to replace Pollard focused on a decline in individual donations to the party over the last year, the loss of Senate 34 to a Democrat who was a popular high school coach in the special election to replace Rick Brinkley, the failure to recapture House 85, which had been lost to the Democrats in a September 2015 special election, and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's cancellation of his planned speech to the convention's gala dinner, over accusations that speaking would violate the Federal Hatch Act.

On the latter point, Pollard was blamed for a party email that somehow changed the nature of the event to a party fundraiser, making it inappropriate for Pruitt to attend. But the convention gala has always been a party fundraiser, so it was no more or less appropriate for Pruitt to attend before the email went out than after, although Pruitt stated that prior to the email, EPA ethics office had approved the appearance.

The day before the convention, an email attacking Pollard went out to convention delegates from pam at pampollard.com from a group calling itself "Lifelong Republicans Interested in REAL Leadership." The email linked to the pampollard.com website (which went dark sometime after the convention vote), which repeated the attacks. The email claimed as the organization's address as 4020 N Lincoln Blvd #100, OKC, OK 73105, which is the former address of Majority Designs and AH Strategies, the defunct firms founded by indicted political consultant Fount Holland. The thought crossed my mind that while the email and website were probably a straightforward attack intended to hurt Pollard, this plausibly could have been an attempt to hurt Aery by connecting his campaign to unseat Pollard to an anonymous attack and to a disgraced political consultant.

(UPDATE 2017/05/09: Ethics filings by Zack Taylor, the Republican winner in the House 28 special election, indicate that the firm Advocacy Insight LLC used that address at least through March 2, 2017. After that time, the address given is PO Box 54653, OKC 73154 until April 21, 2017, and in the last entry in the report, the address was listed as 401 NE 46th St, OKC, 73105.)

After the chairman vote, Vice Chairman DeWayne McAnally was reelected without opposition.

During the course of the morning session, while waiting for credentials reports or votes being cast, delegates heard from National Committeeman Steve Curry and National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty. Tribute was paid to the late State Representative David Brumbaugh and Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.


State Auditor Gary Jones announces campaign for governor at the 2017 Oklahoma Republican Convention.

State Auditor Gary Jones and Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb both announced that they are running for governor. Attorney General Mike Hunter, recently appointed to fill Scott Pruitt's unexpired term, will be running for a full term. Several other candidates for 2018 also spoke: Gary Richardson (running for governor), former Republican State Chairman Matt Pinnell (running for lieutenant governor), and Deputy State Auditor Cindy Byrd (running for state auditor).


Lieutenant Governor candidate Matt Pinnell and family at the 2017 Oklahoma Republican Convention.

The afternoon session dealt with proposed state party rule changes, a resolution calling for an abortion ban, and the successful attempt to kill the proposed party platform, but I'll cover that in a later entry.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from May 2017.

Oklahoma Politics: April 2017 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: August 2017 is the next archive.

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