UPDATE: The 2013 Oklahoma State Republican Convention will be held Friday and Saturday the 19th and 20th of April. Registration will be on Friday from 2 PM to 7:30 PM, and on Saturday from 7-9 AM at the Magnuson Hotel – 737 S. Meridian Ave in Oklahoma City. Check back on Standard Excellence for updates, interviews, and reports!

Saturday morning, the Republican party of three Oklahoma counties held their conventions, electing county level officers and voting on rule and platform changes. This year’s convention was generally a much smoother one than last year’s, though it did run past its scheduled time even longer than the 2012 Oklahoma County Convention.

Oklahoma GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell was not in attendance Saturday. Though he ordinarily has attended Oklahoma County’s conventions, Tulsa County, where Pinnell is a resident, also held their convention the same day. Pam Pollard greeted the delegates on his behalf, and announced that he has been offered a job with the Republican National Committee. The job is a new position, created by Chairman Reince Priebus, will involve coordinating state party chairs and helping them work together nationally.

Business

Matt Jackson, Chairman,  Oklahoma County Republican Party

Matt Jackson, Chairman, Oklahoma County Republican Party

Convention business started around 11 am, beginning with credentials. The total number of credentialed delegates in attendance was 390. This year there were remarkably fewer credential disputes than last year’s county convention, where it took most of the morning to get through credentials. The credentials report was approved unanimously by voice vote, and later amended to add more delegates who were not counted originally.

Matt Jackson, Chairman of the Oklahoma County Republican Party, nominated Bill Price convention chair. This caused a dispute over whether nominations were to be taken as opposed to a yes or no vote for the named nominee. A vote of the convention determined the vote for chair would be carried out as proposed by Jackson, and Price was confirmed as the convention chair.

This was not the end of the friction, however. Before the rules report could be presented by Bill Price, a delegate arose to say the election was rigged because the only one who could be voted on was the person named by the party chair. Ultimately, the vote stood and the convention proceeded smoothly.

Next was the rules report, which was adopted unanimously by voice vote.

The bulk of the time of Saturday’s convention was occupied by the election of party officials. A delegate made a motion to vote by slate instead of individual so as to speed the voting process. The chair called for a standing vote, but was corrected by convention parliamentarian, who stated the elections should be held individually, and that there was no slate that could be voted on in the first place.

Chairman. Two men ran for Chairman, Steve Dickson and incumbent Matt Jackson. Dickson was given the opportunity to speak first. As he called for the party to move beyond the divisions of last year, he stated, “We have to learn to talk to all the generations,” Dickson also advocated courting the influx of young activists into the party and making precinct officers available publicly.

Jackson’s speech related that the biggest threat to the party is division from within. He asked the delegation for another two years, promising to continue to work for the party. The vote, though close, went to  Matt Jackson who won 52% of the proportioned ballots. Not all precincts count for the same percentage in party conventions, but are calculated based on prior election vote turnout in those precincts.

Vice-chair. Cheryl Williams was elected vice-chair over Jay Mandraccia, the incumbent. The total was so close on this vote that it was later a source of contention when chair Bill Price announced it would be recalculated to ensure accuracy. The entire convention was almost brought to a close when a delegate called for a quorum. Even the method of determining a quorum was brought into question.

Ultimately it was agreed that a quorum was present, and the convention moved on with business. The last elections were county and congressional district level commiteeperson positions. Finally, the platform was successfully adopted, and everything appeared to be winding down as the convention came to its final agenda item.

Until a few amendments were presented…

Without going into detail, a few amendments apparently received a required forty signatures to be presented to the convention from the floor. They involved withholding party funding from political candidates who do not meet certain criteria and limiting how an elected government representative can endorse party candidates in the primaries. A number of votes had to be taken to accommodate these entries, some were adopted, and the convention was called to a close.

Reflection

Oklahoma County Republican ConventionI like to give an overall opinion of each of these conventions I have attended, having been involved in the Republican party process since 2010, when I first became a convention delegate. Though this year took even longer than last year, proving it is indeed possible, I feel like it went much better. Last year there were 30 disenfranchised people waving their voter registration cards in the air because they could not make it through the credentials process. This year there were only a handful of issues, and no disputes from the floor of the convention. That, my friends, is progress.

Last year we had a vote to include those delegates whose credentials had been disputed, and then another vote originating from the same group to not allow any more additional delegates to be added at the next convention. There were TEA Party people, Ron Paul supporters, and what some call The Establishment. All three of these groups had sharp contention which even resulted in physical violence by the time of the state convention. This year there was some shouting and general grumpiness by the end of the day, but I got the sense we were getting along with one another. Maybe getting along like a brother and sister forced to share a hotel bed on a budget family vacation, but getting along nonetheless.

All in all, it seems people left with a “let’s move on” kind of spirit, and I tend to think though we will have our quarrels, the Oklahoma Republican Party will become stronger, and hopefully more inclusive and open-minded.

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