OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin announced today that former Oklahoma House Speaker Chris Benge will be appointed secretary of state. He will begin serving on Nov. 8, 2013.
Benge replaces Larry Parman, whom the governor has appointed to serve as the director of the Oklahoma Department of Commerce (ODOC) and on her Cabinet as secretary of commerce. Parman will continue to serve as secretary of state through Nov. 7 and will start his new duties on Nov. 8.
As secretary of state, Benge will serve as a senior adviser to the governor on policy, economic and legislative issues. The appointment requires the confirmation of the Oklahoma Senate.
“My focus as governor has been to implement pro-growth, fiscally responsible and conservative policies to move this state forward,” Fallin said. “Chris Benge’s leadership and experience as a legislator and leader of the House will help us continue in those efforts. I’m delighted to have him serve as a member of my Cabinet.”
Benge, of Tulsa, was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1998 and served until 2010. During his time as a legislator, he served as House Appropriations and Budget Committee chairman from December 2004 to February 2008 and speaker of the House from February 2008 to November 2010.
“I am extremely honored to accept Governor Fallin’s invitation to fill the position of secretary of state,” Benge said. “I look forward to working with the governor and the Legislature to maintain a strong focus on promoting economic growth and opportunities for our citizens. As a lifelong Oklahoman, I am excited to be able to serve the state.”
After leaving the House, Benge served as an adviser to Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett on policy and was a liaison for other governmental entities. Since August 2011, Benge has been senior vice president of government affairs for the Tulsa Regional Chamber.
“I am thankful for my experience working with the Tulsa chamber,” he said. “It is a great organization that works hard to bring about economic growth opportunities for the region.”
Benge has a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University-Tulsa.
He and his wife, Allison, have two children.