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Pam Pollard Elected Republican State Chairman

By: Constitution Staff

Pam Pollard Elected Republican State Chairman

At the state GOP Convention in April, Brogdon defeated the sitting chairman Dave Weston along with Pollard who was also a candidate.

Pam Pollard was elected chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party at a special meeting of state committee members on October 11 at Oklahoma City Community College. She will fill the remainder of Randy Brogdon's two-year term which expires in the spring of 2017. The election by the state committee became necessary when Brogdon, who was chosen by the state convention in April to chair the Oklahoma GOP, resigned.

Pollard of Midwest City, was one of three candidates campaigning for the position. Pollard is the owner of Pollard Accounting & Tax Service. She has been an active volunteer with the Oklahoma Republican Party for 17 years and has served as state party vice-chairman under Chairman Matt Pinnell from 2011-2013 and has been a member of the state GOP Budget Committee, Executive Committee and State Committee. The 55-year-old Pollard is the current president of the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women (OFRW).

After Brogdon stepped down in September, the state party vice chairman, Estela Hernandez, became the interim chairman. The party rules require an election to be scheduled within 60 days to select a permanent replacement. Hernandez of Oklahoma City, decided to seek the post herself. The 38-year-old Hernandez was elected vice chair in April. She holds a degree in Business Administration and she and her husband own and operate a local construction company. She was chairman of the Community Engagement Committee for the OFRW which reaches out to recruit new citizens to become Republicans.

Robbert Hubbard, a longtime party activist and the present 3rd Congressional District GOP chairman, was the third candidate for the job. The 71-year-old Hubbard ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary last year against congressman Frank Lucas and had been a candidate for governor in 2010. He is a rancher and businessman in Canadian County.

A fourth candidate, Will Crozier, was nominated prior to the vote, but withdrew after giving a brief speech. Crozier was the Republican nominee against Senator David Boren in 1984.

Pollard received 163 votes (45.9% ), followed by Hernandez with 115 votes (32.3%), and Hubbard had 77 votes (21.7%). The total number of votes came to 355, but only 339 state committee members were present in person or by proxy (including 106 state legislative members). While the committee members was debating how to deal with the extra 16 votes, Hernandez made a motion to elect Pollard and the motion was seconded by Hubbard. Pollard was then approved as chairman by a voice vote with only a handful of objectors. This move avoided a possibly contentious situation. The debacle of the last two state convention's credentialing process has been a sore spot with convention delegates.

Cheryl Williams, a former state party vice chairman, and long-time grassroots activist told the Oklahoma Constitution, "The drama has to stop. We can't reach voters when our guns are all pointed at each other."

Former State Representative Charles Key told the Constitution that advancing the principles of the party was more important than "unity." Key said the central question that has yet to be answered is, "What does it mean to be a Republican?"

Carrie Kropff complained about the meeting occurring on a Sunday afternoon, which she called "God and family time," and cited the scheduling as "a snapshot of what's wrong with our country."

State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, a former state chairman, said that he just looked "forward to this thing being over, so we can move on."

It was clear from conversations with Hubbard supporters that had the committee taken a second ballot, Pollard would have won most all of the Hubbard support. One activist, who wished to remain unknown, told the Constitution before the meeting, "If Estella wins, it is the same people as the Weston Administration, minus Dave Weston."

At the state GOP Convention in April, Brogdon defeated the sitting chairman Dave Weston along with Pollard who was also a candidate. Brogdon finished first on the initial ballot with 47.45% of the vote, Pollard came in second with 29.11%, and Weston finished last with 23.43 percent. With Weston eliminated, a runoff between Brogdon and Pollard commenced. It was expected that most of Weston's votes would shift to Pollard who was also viewed as part of the party establishment. However, Brogdon received enough support to win with 53.29 percent.

Brogdon resigned after less than five months in the job. He was elected with the support of the "grassroots" conservative wing of the party and quickly found himself under attack and being undermined by the party establishment. This included some members of the congressional delegation and state officials who have been at odds with conservatives in recent years. Brogdon first came under fire for giving a party staff position to T.C. Ryan, who once pleaded guilty to domestic violence charges. Later, a state party Facebook post concerning food stamp recipients becoming dependent on the government brought further criticism.

Upon assuming the chairmanship, Brogdon reported the former Chairman David Weston left the party in debt. Brogdon raised enough money to cover the debt through appeals to individuals, but what was raised was not sufficient to sustain the party's operations. The establishment Republicans who support the party financially turned off the tap and set the party finances into a downward spiral which Brogdon was not able to overcome.

It was a similar story back in 1982. Mike Freeman of Tulsa resigned after being elected chairman the previous year. Freeman, a Tulsan who was virtually an unknown in party circles until he ran his father's 1980 unsuccessful congressional campaign, resigned under fire in January after holding the office less than a year. Since May, the party establishment had been at odds with Freeman and the party finances dried up. And, it was the same story in 1989 after Mike Morris defeated the party establishment. Morris was elected to the post in February, but resigned before the end of the year.

In her appeal for votes to the state committee, Hernandez cautioned the members that there are ten seats term-limited in the state House of Representatives, and "six of them are women." Why that is important was not stated, but now the Republican Party in Oklahoma is led by two women. Hernandez will remain as vice chairman until her term ends in 2017. It is the first time a woman has been elected to lead the state GOP in more than two decades, and the first time ever that a woman has held both the chair and vice chairwoman positions.

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