At 5pm on Friday, the Oklahoma Election Board released a spreadsheet of candidate filings for the 2021 Oklahoma legislature. The list has some amazing narratives of both matchups and lack thereof. One of the most notable developments from this filing process is the return of several conservative Republicans who've truly earned the label. George Faught has left the legislature twice in the past 10 years. He's now seeking his '3rd tour of duty'. Rick West, Mike Christian, and Former Democrat House Leader, Steve Kouplen are also seeking their old seats. Still others are helping a spouse seek public office. Chuck Strom is helping his wife, Angela, seek the office he held until 2 years ago. Sen. Cari Hicks is helping her husband, Spencer (a former Brad Henry staffer), win a Democrat majority on the Oklahoma County Commission (challenging Brian Maughan). Just 2 years ago, a 'bloodletting' within the House Republican Caucus resulted in the defeat of several incumbents who had refused to pass the largest tax increase in Oklahoma history. These lawmakers held a March press conference with Tom Coburn, at the state capitol. Their 'line in the sand' was a written pledge to oppose even higher taxes. The first signer of that pledge was Kevin Stitt, followed the next day by the known members of the House Platform Caucus, and some Senate members. Conservative advocates now say that despite the unorganized state of a conservative caucus, there is a growing coalition who largely votes in step with the disbanded group.
Disclaimer: There is no stated plan to formally organize a 'platform caucus'. This meme embodies the perceived nostalgic notion of the principal members re engaging in the public policy process.
In 2017, Chuck Strohm & Sean Roberts organized a group of conservative lawmakers with a simple pledge to govern by the Republican Party Platform's Statement of Principles. The 10-point statement embodies the core Republican Party values and vision for limited government and freedoms restored to the individual, family, and broader Oklahoma society.
While Chuck Strohm is pursuing business ventures, Angela Strom is seeking the House seat her husband Chuck held for 2 terms. She's a fearless advocate for her deeply held convictions on public policy. She might be a better floor debater than her husband was. She studies issues very thoroughly. Other conservative women are also on a mission to make a change in their district representation. They could become the new faces of female public policy champions. Oklahoma has not seen a strong female conservative champion in several years. The very effective public policy group, "Oklahomans For Health & Parental Rights" has recruited several candidates to challenge key lawmakers whose voting records reflect an erosion of parental authority to make important healthcare decisions. We'll be detailing those races in future coverage. But OKHPR is also effectively raising funds to support trusted allies in the legislature. As a result, several strong conservative voices are not challenged at all, in this next round of elections. 37 House Republicans are heading back to the capitol, next January. 6 Senate Republicans are also winners by default. The Oklahoma Self defense advocacy group, OK2A; is also making a big impact with both campaign donations and legislative 'scorecards' on the legislature. Many of their biggest legislative allies are unopposed and heading back next January.
A 'Tea Party Democrat' Re Enters
Democrat Steve Kouplen's campaign sets up some very interesting narratives. His son is an important member of Republican Governor Stitt's cabinet. But Steve has been a very influential member of some budget fights, representing the Democrat caucus. Two years ago, Steve told me; "You know, when the Tea Party movement first started, it was just as Democrat as it was Republican. It was about bailouts for the big 'too big to fail' corporations, but nothing for the 'mom & pops' businesses and working families.". Steve Kouplen will take on the Republican for HD21. Logan Philips defeated Kouplen 2 years ago without spending any campaign money. Philips, an educator from Okemah, also defeated other Republicans who'd spent plenty of money in the primary & runoff. But now he has to defend a voting record, rather than an educator legacy.
Liza Greve leads a grassroots group of advocates for parental rights, especially the right to make healthcare decisions for their own children. Her group has emerged in the past 4 years to help shape many public policy issues for family freedom.
Don Spencer now leads the OK2A organization. He was named the 2019 Citizen of the Year, by Sooner Politics. He secured broad support for the very first bill that Gov. Stitt signed; a bill to restore Oklahomans to their right to keep and bear arms without first obtaining special licensing.
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David Van Risseghem is the Publisher of SoonerPolitics.org. The resource is committed to informing & mobilizing conservative Oklahomans for civic reform. This endeavor seeks to utilize the efforts of all cooperative facets of the Conservative movement...
"No politician 'checks off every box" in your list of issues. You have to prioritize and use personal discretion regarding every current and future issue that you can imagine. Then you have to also judge integrity & consistency. A candidate's openness to study the issues & courage to think for themselves. Then you need to review their honesty & work ethic. I respect any voter's decision, when they've informed themselves and took voting seriously." - David Van Risseghem
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