The Republicans in Oklahoma have had 3 major infusions of new energy and involvement, in the past 40 years.
As a part of that Reagan revolution, I joined the Tulsa GOP in 1984, shortly after I got married & settled in Oklahoma. At that time, the GOP was a very small portion of Oklahoma politics. Rural Democrats controlled all aspects of state govt. and Tulsa was just beginning to see expanded GOP influence. Dewey Bartlett sr., Jim Inhofe, & Frank Keating were a few shining stars in Tulsa, but one leader in the newly-emerging religious right said; "the GOP establishment still acts like the County starts at Utica Square and ends at I-44."
Political Slates in the GOP
Jim Inhofe's sister, Joan(Inhofe) Johnson, had always been a strong conservative ally of Phyllis Schlafly, head of a largely woman's group known as Eagle Forum. Even though they organized to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment(ERA) during the 70s, they continued to assert conservative values to this very day. Bunny Chambers, Carolyn McLarty, Sandy Hodges, and so many others have grown the size & impact of the religious right.
Johnson effectively utilized 'slates' of endorsed candidates to inform political newcomers about how to make effective & more informed votes in party leadership elections.
In 1993, Joan, Bill Brown, and I put together a slate which swept the Tulsa County GOP elections. Rich Gradell was one of the young leaders on that slate.
In previous years, Dick Freeman worked with John Birch Society leader, Dr. Mike Ritze, to effectively open the Tulsa GOP to the "Pat Robertson" Republicans & Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority.
The old guard hated the loss of control, but loved the electoral success. Tulsa Attorney, Terry Simonson was one consensus candidate that became chairman at a crucial time in GOP growth. In 1992 He led an electoral miracle, winning 12 of 14 elections that the county was part of. I led the Pat Buchanan campaigns in 1992 and 1996. Simonson was not a fan of Buchanan, but he was completely fair in providing a clean process. He succeeded in assimilating the religious Right into the GOP.
In 2011, Sally Bell & JB Alexander rose to party leadership. they captured the Tea Party energy, but the 'downtown' Republicans have generally provided better party structure than the insurgent movements. Movement candidates have a less-stellar history at managing a party organization. They have amazing energy & vision, but they burn out quicker, and sometimes are just as biased in primaries as they claim the establishment has been toward their causes.
All Tulsa County Republican voters are invited to the precinct & county elections, this Saturday at Stoney Creek Convention center, next to Bass Pro Shop in Broken Arrow. Sign up here.
A new attitude is needed in the OKC metro GOP. How that plays out... I don't know. But it's desperately needed. It's needed more & more everywhere. We need to be infectious in our love for our principles, and spread them optimistically, like Reagan did. We need to smile more! We need to build each other up, not tear ourselves down.
When I tear you down, I tear 'us' down. It's important to hold all leaders accountable. That's why the Democrats lost control. They covered up when drunken lawmakers showed up at the capitol. We just need to be objective and willing to assist in addressing deficits in leadership, without driving away good people.