State Republicans pick chairman, adopt platform seeking sanctions for teacher walkouts
MOORE — Oklahoma Republicans on Saturday elected a Tulsa County businessman as their new state chairman and adopted a platform that calls for penalizing school districts for teacher walkouts and demanding floor votes in the Legislature on abolishing abortion.
David McLain, of Skiatook, won a first ballot victory over Daren Ward, of Oklahoma County, and Darren Gantz, of Tulsa County, to serve as chairman of the party that leads the state in voter registration and controls every statewide office and the Legislature.
“I am truly a grassroots man,’’ McLain told nearly 1,000 delegates. “I have knocked on thousands of doors with you.”
McLain, 48, who owns a small construction company and served as Tulsa County GOP chairman, will replace Pam Pollard, of Oklahoma County, who has been state chair since 2015.
He promised to recruit, train and raise money for Republican candidates all down the ballot.
The convention, held at the First Moore Baptist Church, marked another phase of Tulsa County’s growing influence in the GOP. Though it has fewer registered Republicans than Oklahoma County, Tulsa County had more delegates apportioned for the convention because it gave better voting margins to Kevin Stitt in 2018 and Donald Trump in 2016.
Stitt lost Oklahoma County last year while winning the governor’s race by a big margin statewide. He carried Tulsa County by a thin margin. Stitt and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell are from Tulsa County.
DeWayne McAnally, of Oklahoma County, told delegates Saturday, “Oklahoma County is very blue. And we want to turn that back red again.”
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The state party adopted its first platform since 2015, a 33-page statement of principles regarding state and national issues. Though many provisions hew closely to Republican platforms of years past, others comment on more recent events.
A year after Oklahoma teachers walked out demanding better funding for schools, the platform says the party supports enforcing a state ban on teacher strikes or walkouts during the school year “by penalizing any district that closes its schools with a funding cut equivalent to the daily payroll and expenses of the district.”
Other provisions of the platform state:
• “We oppose the portrayal of homosexual or promiscuous behavior in a positive light in public schools.”
• “We oppose any non-chromosonal gender re-education and the teaching of LGBTQ lifestyle, history, and demonstration in public schools.”
• “We oppose paying congressional members and their staff during any government shutdown.”
• “We oppose socialized medicine, the Affordable Care Act, or any other nationalized health care system.”
• “We oppose the designation of public schools as ‘gun free zones.’”
• "We insist that any candidate receiving money and/or support from the Republican Party shall affirm and promote Traditional Marriage and Pro-Life Values." The platform defines traditional marriage as one between a man and a woman.
The platform’s stance that the state House and Senate vote on legislation to abolish all abortions has already been rejected by GOP legislative leaders for the current session.
In an apparent reference to Republican legislators giving money to candidates challenging GOP incumbents last year, the platform opposes “a Political Action Committee (PAC) composed of or controlled by Legislators recruiting or supporting any candidate until the primary selection process is complete.”
Carolyn McLarty, who led the platform writing committee, said Saturday, "This is the voice of the grass roots. It's what we're talking about."
Any Republican running for office in the state should agree with at least 80 percent of the platform, she said.
Members of the Oklahoma congressional delegation addressed the delegates, including both senators. Most praised President Donald Trump and criticized congressional Democrats.