By Craig Dawkins
May 6, 2012
As a person who has followed the Oklahoma GOP scene intimately since 1995, I find it refreshing to watch the liberty movement sweep change into the Oklahoma GOP. Though Ron Paul received roughly 10% of the GOP presidential primary in March of this year, the liberty movement that carries his banner is primed to make big gains within the Oklahoma Republican Party.
The liberty movement dominated the 3rd, 4th, and 5th district conventions this year despite an all-out effort by the GOP establishment to get out their supporters. The 1st District Convention failed to follow state party rules in conducting its convention business and now looks to have its entire delegate process undone as the liberty movement is successfully contesting the entire convention.
The liberty movement has only the May 12th Oklahoma Republican Party State Convention in which to conquer. But it will not be a simple task as establishment heavies have been beating the bushes for their supporters to show up and control the convention. The liberty movement has been vilified by the Oklahoma GOP establishment and despite calls for civility, people identified as “Paulbots” have been ill-treated by establishment foes.
The 2012 Oklahoma County GOP credentials committee chairman, Charlie Potts, denied up to 40 Republicans from obtaining convention delegate credentials on shady criteria. Many of these people were asked who they supported for president, what they’ve done for the GOP, how many campaigns they’ve helped in, and other non-relevant questions. It took an uprising in the convention to force the Oklahoma County GOP establishment to accept those who were disqualified.
It turns out that Charlie Potts was one of two men who walked up to me at the 2008 Oklahoma County convention demanding that I return their anti-Ron Paul supporter propaganda. The propaganda piece referred to Ron Paul supporters as “pink elephants” and not real Republicans. I denied their request because it violated convention rules but offered to return copies after the convention had conducted its business. Potts agreed that it violated the rules and coaxed the other fellow to drop it.
And a close source to the Darrell Sorrels for Oklahoma County Sheriff campaign has informed me that Oklahoma state party vice-chair Pam Pollard refused to give their campaign the contact information of Oklahoma County precinct chairs and vice chairs, despite the fact that Oklahoma County approved giving that information to all candidates.
The Oklahoma County GOP has, in recent years, been embroiled in a campaign finance scandal that resulted in a public rebuke from the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. (http://www.ok.gov/oec/documents/IV-2007-008-PR.pdf) The real story wasn’t so much that people made mistakes in misappropriating state party funds as much as it was about the way the Oklahoma GOP establishment sought to cover up the whole mess. I’m guessing that some of you reading this had no idea that the Oklahoma County GOP was the center of an ethics investigation. It was just swept under the rug.
In February of 2008, I attempted to raise the issue before the Oklahoma County convention only to be thwarted by members of the Oklahoma County GOP executive committee. Pam Pollard, who was then county chair, promised me that if I would withdraw from the motion of new business, she would schedule me to address my concerns to the county executive committee. As you can already surmise, I’m still waiting on that call.
The liberty movement in Oklahoma is growing and is the future of the Oklahoma Republican Party IF the old guard will have them. That remains to be seen. After the May 12th state convention, we’ll see whether the Oklahoma GOP is united with one purpose or at war from within. I somehow don’t believe the old guard will accept new liberty members. The state convention will serve as a marquee political battle but will likely set the stage for a larger war next year as a new party chairman will be chosen.