Analysis: Currently, the Oklahoma House is considering a measure that could change the date for our Presidential Primary. This is an important issue and one that is certainly deserving of debate and discussion. But we need honest debate and discussion. It is unfortunate that there are those who prefer to twist this bill into a campaign issue with half-truths, deception and misinformation.
Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion on SB233, the legislation that poses to back up the Oklahoma Presidential Primary by a month from Super Tuesday in March to a later date on the first Tuesday of April. There are those who have alleged that this was a unilateral effort, but nothing could be further from the truth.
In fact, each step of the process has been pursued with the unanimous advice and consent of our State Central Committee (Vice-Chair Sara Jo Odom, National Committeeman Steve Fair, National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty) and the State Executive Committee, membership of which is comprised of elected and appointed Oklahoma Republicans from all areas of the state. Our goal has been to determine the most viable options for the State Committee to consider for the most appropriate Presidential Preference Primary Election date in 2016.
Had we not started this process of moving forward with SB233 to this point no options would be available to the State Committee for consideration.
Further there has been misinformation that the bill would require us to become a winner-take-all state in which all our delegates to the Republican National Convention would be cast for the candidate who won a plurality vote in the primary. This is FALSE.
When you actually read the new RNC Primary Rules, the consideration of moving our primary to a later date gives our State Committee flexibility in whether we stay proportional, how we determine proportionality or become a winner-take-all state. These are the reasons why our State Central Committee and State Executive Committee have given their support to move this bill forward because flexibility in the face of the new RNC rules is a key for the State Committee to have all viable options available (Note: Moving a bill forward does not mean that any of us would support passage of SB233 against the will of the State Committee.).
Some have criticized that Oklahoma Republican voters will be “disenfranchised” by moving our primary to a later date and that Oklahoma will become irrelevant in the process. It can and also should be debated at the upcoming State Committee meeting that the opposite is true.
For instance, if we retain our current primary date where Oklahoma is merely one of a half dozen or more larger states, we are almost guaranteed to be relegated to “fly-over state” status with no appearances from candidates and our votes making up a small percentage of the total votes cast by all the states on that date. However, by moving to a later date, we could be among the final few when only a handful of candidates still remain. Each state in that stage of the primary gets very special attention because its delegate votes are more precious. In such a scenario, it is even conceivable that Oklahoma could be the state that puts our choice in the lead for the nomination.
The ultimate decision on our party position regarding SB233 will be put before the full State Committee as an agenda item at our April 10th meeting. We have pursued the path of committee approval from the outset because this is precisely why the committees exist: to advise and direct the operations of the Party.
Those who have chosen to question this issue could have done so with a simple phone call; it is tragedy that they have not. Instead, they thought it more advantageous to attempt to use this as a wedge to attack. These attacks have risen to a personal level in an attempt to ascribe motivations to those who merely wanted to provide the Party with options. Those who serve on our State Committee, our Executive Committee and our Central Committee sacrifice their time, finances and talents for the benefit of building a strong Republican Party. They are deserving of our thanks, not this destructive gossip that is detrimental to the process.
I stand firmly by the consent of Vice-Chair Sara Jo Odom, National Committeeman Steve Fair, National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty and the State Executive Committee in their support to move SB233 forward out of the Oklahoma House Committee so that our State Committee can have a chance to consider the options at hand. It is my hope you will join me in supporting this more flexible approach to party governance.