OKLAHOMA CITY. Yesterday, on Saturday, April 20, 2013, the Oklahoma Republican party held its annual convention. Over 1,200 delegates assembled at the Magnuson Hotel in Oklahoma City, with business coming to order at 9 AM. This year the main order of business was to hold an election for the party chair and vice-chair, who are Dave Weston of Cleveland County, and Sara Jo Odom, of Oklahoma County.
In addition to the leadership election, the regular order of business included adoption of a party platform and changes to state party rules. Five rule changes were considered, including three drafted last year but not addressed at the controversial state convention.
Formerly the youngest state chair of the GOP, Matt Pinnell has instead accepted a position with the RNC, which he will begin this year as he transitions to the national post. The position, being called the state party director, is a new one created by RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, designed to help coordinate the efforts of the fifty state chairs.
Senator James Inhofe spoke to the delegation in the morning and in a way started his reelection campaign for the 2016 election. Signs were placed under delegate chairs for a sign wave when he took the stage. Inhofe also announced the passage of a resolution he co-sponsored in the Senate, which will prevent a UN Arms Treaty that would place restrictions on Second Amendment rights in the United States.
Rick Green, of Wallbuilders, an organization that teaches American history, addressed the convention during a lunch break. His young son also gave a well received speech on President John Quincy Adams and the influence he had on then future President Abraham Lincoln.
Other speeches included Estella Hernandez, the first Hispanic committeewoman elected from Oklahoma County earlier this year, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, and both the outgoing Chairman and vice-chair. Pinnell and Pollard both received standing ovations at the conclusion of their speeches.
The number of authorized delegates for the convention was 1,227 (increased from 1,222 in the preliminary report), much less than the presidential year participation levels in 2012. This year was also the scene of no controversial chaos as was experienced last year when Ron Paul supporters and TEA Party activists collided with established party leadership and membership. The different groups were still present in about the same proportions, though there seemed to be an absence of a clear TEA Party presence.
The credentials and rules reports had both been adopted by noon, which was a notable improvement from last year’s convention, when neither report had been finalized until well past the lunch hour.
Voting on the candidates resulted in a split reflecting an equal proportion of delegates from both camps, with Ron Paul advocates accounting for about 40% of the voting power in the convention. As the number would indicate, none of the candidates representing their viewpoint won. However, contention was hardly a characteristic of the business of the day.
As rule changes were proposed and debated, the voting proportions changed. One rule proposal was narrowly defeated, 50.5% to 49.5%, indicating the sometimes opposing factions do share common beliefs, even while disagreeing at times. Debate was, however, lively, and accounted for the bulk of anything that could be considered controversial.
A total of five rule change proposals were submitted. Here is a summary of what they are, and the result of their votes:
- Restoration of gender requirement for precinct, county, congressional district, and state Chairman and Vice-chairman, which requirement was removed in 2011. Result: failed.
- Clarification of rule 16(e), and the addition of a requirement for elected officials to be subject to the same credentialing process as all other delegates. Result: failed unanimously.
- Requirement for all Oklahoma Republican candidates for office to indicate agreement or disagreement to all planks of the Oklahoma Republican Platform prior to receiving endorsement from the party. Result: passed.
- Forbidding of elected officials to endorse any candidate in the primary elections. This was amended to strengthen the language and forbid elected officials to make any endorsements until primaries have been completed. Result: failed.
- Reinforcement of existing Rule 20, requiring amendments not presented and voted upon in state conventions to be brought up in the first order of business at the next state convention. Result: passed.
The convention adjourned at 5:20 PM, with no parking lot delegation following it this time. Delegates who went to the parking lot last year when the lights were shut off and partitions began to divide a third of the room off mentioned that they had no problems with this year’s convention because the official rules were upheld.