April 14, 2013
On Friday’s (April 14, 2013) AxXiom For Liberty radio show Howard and I spoke to Amanda Teegarden and Dave Weston, both candidates for Oklahoma state Republican Chair.
The OK GOP Convention will be held this Friday and Saturday. Details here
(If you care to listen to our discussion with Teegarden and Weston, here is the audio clip from that segment of the show.
In the interest of transparency I want to disclose that I support and have given my endorsement to Amanda Teegarden. I also did my best to treat both our guests in an equal and fair manner. Both candidates have my respect.
(You can find out more about the candidates, Dave Weston here and Amanda Teegarden here )
The following is a text based dust up of the discussion we had with the candidates from Friday’s show.
We began by introducing both candidates, giving highlights from their campaign web bio’s Howard then invited them each to give us 2 1/2 minutes on what they wanted Republican voters in Oklahoma to know about them and why they were running.
said that we are at a critical point in our nation and we have to be sure that we can back five Republican Congressman and a send back conservative Senator to DC US Congress so that we can ensure Oklahoma values are preserved and we can hold Obama at bay.
Weston touched upon state concerns saying that “We’ve also got to be able to do what we can on the state level to use the powers of nullification- I know that is a hot button- to hold back basically, what I consider to be the encroachment of the federal government upon our state and upon our citizens”
Dave Weston emphasized the importance of fundraising.
“We have to establish a base, a foundation” says Weston drawing analogy with the Calgary tower in Canada that stands 626 feet high, and weighs about 12,000 tons with 7 of those tons being concentrated at the base of the tower located underground.
“When you have a foundation like that you can go way up high and you can do really well” “The foundation for politics is fundraising” He says he hopes to build upon the foundation already established within the Republican Party noting that “we’ve raised a lot of money in the past and money is the mother’s milk of politics”
Policy is also important says Weston “but without the foundation in place the policy is not going to get us very far because we have the people elected that are going to be able to enact that policy”
Amanda Teegarden began by speaking about her work over the past 8 years to “educate, advocate and lobby the Oklahoma state legislature” She says that the Oklahoma grassroots has done well in their party political efforts and have been very successful in getting Republicans elected in the state. But still, something is not quite right.
“There’s a disconnect” says Teegarden.
She explains that it was during the process of educating herself which included spending time at the capitol directly observing the policy making that she realized “that what the press releases say and how the party is being marketed to the public compared to what we are actually doing legislatively with those policies and the changes that are taking place, there’s a disconnect.”
Addressing that “disconnect between what’s being said and what’s being done” is of great importance to her.
Teegarden notes that she has a proven track record of bringing people together, educating them on the issues encouraging them to participate in the political process “so that we can enjoy proper representation.” She vows to continue that work as OK GOP Chair.
On the issue of fundraising, she agrees with Weston that it is important noting that the state GOP has “fortunately been blessed with many people who have that skillset. What is missing in Republican leadership, she says, is somebody who also understands policy and can bring that understanding level of accountability to the office”
I get to ask the first question of our candidates and my question is an open one. I ask; “What do you think is the biggest problem or stumbling block that exists within our GOP and what do we have to do fix that, to improve?”
Dave Weston says that he doesn’t believe that Republicans need to change their message. Using the example of Scott Walker Wisconsin, Weston says it is apparent that “conservatism as it is still sells. . .Conservatism is the best way to govern best way to live best way for people to have moral values to have a moral government and so I don’t believe that we need to change anything as far as out messaging goes
“What we do need to do is improve the delivery of our message”
Weston says we were “out-executed” on the national level in the presidential election but says that ultimately the fact that many Republicans “chose to be frustrated and stay home” is the reason that we now have Barack Obama as president.
Amanda Teegarden says that she thinks the biggest problem is that, “the policies that are currently being advanced . . .are running contrary to what our platform says we are about”
She says that the problem is not that our message is wrong but that tactics are being used to try and force people to accept what is essentially pablum in place of red meat. Teegarden points to the selection of weak candidates in 2008 and 2012 as a big part of the problem.
Next, Howard wants to know how we going to bring in minorities and young people into the Republican part.
“What are we going to do to grab a hold of these groups that we are missing in the Republican Party?” He asks the candidates.
Dave Weston: “As far as minorities are concerned, we need to quit calling them ‘minorities’ in my opinion, it is ‘ethnic outreach,’ number one so we’ve got to change the verbiage and we’ve got to treat them like they are regular people and reach out to them.”
Weston says he is encouraged by the efforts of one Oklahoma Republican Women’s club in attending Naturalization ceremonies on the 29th of each month. He says they now signed up over 50 new republicans
Regarding the youth, Weston says that “our biggest detriment is that our meetings are boring” Boring meetings and disagreeing in a disagreeable fashion are the two biggest reasons why people don’t come back around.”
Amanda Teegarden says she agrees that we have to do more to reach these people and that she believes that having a party that stands on principle is attractive to these groups.
In the case of immigrants, Teegarden says that this is what they came to this country for; “. . .to enjoy the freedoms and liberty” this she says is the impression they have of the United States that brought them here. “Immigrants, she says, would be naturally gravitating to the party that stands on principle.”
Amanda Teegarden says that she has actively pursued engagement with young conservatives. For example, the recent Nathan Dahm for Senate campaign that she worked on. Teegarden holds Nathan Dahm up as an example of a young candidate that is a true conservative and says that it is evident that there are young people that are willing to get engaged and that she has actively pursued engagement with these young conservatives.
Next, I wanted to see what these two candidates thought about the controversial changes to the RNC rules even as I expressed my uncertainty that the question might be a rather moot point. (Moot because the Spring RNC meeting where this issue was being addressed ended on Friday, the same day this show was airing and the fate of the unpopular rule changes from last Fall had presumably been decided already. For some background in this issue follow this link )
I asked, “What ideas do you have about fixing, if you think it is a problem, the RNC adopted rule changes from the last RNC convention that basically in a lot of ways strips states parties of their power and control over convention delegates what is your opinion on that and do you propose we do about it?”
Dave Weston says “Well, I mean, we seem to revert back to where we were before. I think there are a lot of people who feel that that is an overreach.”
Weston goes on to say that it is his understanding that our GOP National Committeeman, Steve Fair is going to meeting where he will seek to get the rule changed.
(At the recent Spring RNC meeting held April 10th – 13th, Morton Blackwell led the charge to reverse the controversial 2012 RNC rule change that served to shift the balance of power within the GOP even further to the top. It is reported that Steve Fair did indeed cast his vote in favor of reversing the rule change which failed by a narrow margin.)
Amanda Teegarden first asks for me to clarify that I am referring to Rule 11 that was adopted at the 2012 convention in Florida. I confirm that Rule 11 is what I am referencing.
**Note: Here is another instance of my well known handicap with numbers surfacing. Rule 11 was, in fact, the subject of controversy preceding the 2012 RNC convention but really I was referring to the RNC “power grab” rule changes. Maybe I will get a little sympathy since these rules were renumbered at least once during last year’s battle over them. In any event, Amanda connected with substance of the problems with these rules despite my bungling. My apologies for the confusion**
Amanda Teegarden responded that the rule controversy served the purpose of helping the social conservatives and liberty group realize that the problem it was not one another rather, “It was the top down control effort on the part of the establishment to control the outcome,”
And stated unequivocally that that the rule “. . .needs to be overturned.”
“The Republican Party is supposed to be the Party from the grassroots up, from the bottom up, not a top down Party, that is what its tradition is and in order to do that we have to have as much latitude as possible and freedom to choose our candidate as a state. . .”
With only about a minute or so left in segment, Howard gave Weston and Teegarden each 30 seconds to give their closing thoughts beginning with Dave Weston.
Dave Weston said that he just wanted to point out one difference between Amanda and himself and stated, “I do not want to subvert the will of the people at the ballot box.”
“I voted for Rick Santorum and Huckabee in the two previous presidential primary preference election but I don’t understand . . . obviously we can probably change the selection process somewhat, but don’t understand how you can go against the rules, we are talking about rules all the time and yet you are talking about going against the rules of not supporting the nominee and because of that we have Pres. Obama in office.”
At this point, Howard hands the floor to Amanda for her 30 second final thoughts and Weston continues concluding with “and that is not a good place for the GOP chairman to be in.”
Amanda Teegarden – “It is the right of the people to reject the rules that was an unfair rule that was put into place and is currently being mischaracterized as what its intent and I believe that the core principles of the Republican Party are expressed in our platform and our public official should be held accountable to the platform and we should encourage them as a party and party officials to stand up for it and if I am elected as Chair that is what I intend to do”
Dave Weston interjects “Amanda you are saying our elections are illegal?”
Amanda Teegarden: “No. I am not saying our elections are illegal”
With seconds to spare Howard and I close the show.
The comments made by Weston at the end are a head scratcher for me. He insinuates that Amanda believes in subverting the will of the people at the ballot box and subverting rules. I wish we had of had more time so that these points could have been clarified but there are at least two opportunities to hear these candidates speak and ask questions prior to the State GOP Convention.
Tulsa 912 meeting
Thursday, April 18th 6:30pm
Spirit Life Church (Evangelistic Temple) Destination Kids Building
5345 South Peoria Avenue Tulsa, OK 74105-6819
The High Noon Club
Friday, April 19th at 12 noon
H&H Shooting Sports, 400 S Vermont Ave #110 Oklahoma City, OK 73108