In one of the largest and most unusual OKGOP conventions, The Oklahoma Republicans selected John Bennett as the new state chairman, on the first ballot. The former lawmaker and career Marine received a 56% majority on the first ballot, despite a 4-candidate crowd vying for the favor of over 1200 delegates at the Oklahoma City Convention Center.
Shane Jemison was returned to the office of Vice chair with nearly a 60% majority in a two-way race with myself. Shortly after the elections I was asked by Jemison to arrange a meeting with Bennett. The 3 of us ageed on an 8pm informal meeting for Bennett & Jemison, at a nearby hotel. The two men wanted to have an informal 'get acquainted' visit.
Unfortunately, Vice Chair Jemison was a 'no-show' for the meeting with Bennett. While waiting, I had the opportunity to interview John & his wife, Nicole.
The couple still have two of their children at home, in the Sallisaw area of Eastern Oklahoma. John has become the pastor of a small country church since leaving the legislature nearly 3 years ago. His resume' includes training law enforcement in national security matters, which he'd been doing for several years.
A Convention to remember..
The convention was plagued with massive delays for credentialing confusion, then a couple of disputes and glitches resulted in a return to the tested and reliable paper balloting, administrated by the scores of county chairmen. The web-based voting option fell apart when over 100 seated delegates were not given proper access to the online voting portal, causing a delay in the first ballot roll call until about 5pm.
Once Bennett secured the chairmanship, I offered him a chance to address the convention by filling is as my nominator for the vice chair election. As Bennett was climbing the stairs, General Mike Flynn called and John took the brief call, to update the Trump appointee for national security. Then Bennett made some passionate calls for party strength & unity, followed by the procedural nomination.
After the elections, folks began exiting the convention and a quorum was in doubt within minutes. Much of the remaining agenda was dispensed with and will likely be a matter for the State Committee to sort out. in the coming months.