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Tuesday, August 14th, 2018Last Update: Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 11:05:57 AM

Red to the Roots

By: Richard Engle

Would it surprise you to hear that only 45% of partisan elected officials in Oklahoma are Republicans?

Despite having 100% of our federal delegation, and our statewide offices, as well as strong supermajorities in our state legislature, most elected officials who run under a party moniker are still Democrats!

This is true because most partisan elected officials in the state are at the county level.

In December the Oklahoma Republican State Committee was presented with a new strategic initiative called "Red to the Roots."

In introducing it, Oklahoma Republican Party Chair, Pam Pollard, said, "Red to the Roots is not a new program, but a new name and a new energy." During the tenure of Matt Pinnell as OKGOP Chair, I launched an initial and limited effort for the state party to overtly aid Republican nominees for county office. We helped five Republican nominees running for Democrat held seats and won three of them. Red to the Roots is a revived and invigorated version of that effort.

Upon becoming OKGOP chair, Pollard found that some other state party organizations were engaged to assist local Republican candidates. Tennessee and South Carolina named the outreach work "Red to the Roots." We will use their name and experience and combine it with our previous positive experience to create what we hope will be the strongest increase of Republican victories in county and other local offices.

Conservative ideas work at every level of government, and it's long past time for us to concentrate on the area of government that often has the greatest impact on the daily lives of Oklahomans.

As a former local city councilmember, I am familiar with employing conservative ideas in local government. I'm pleased that Rep. Mike Sanders will serve as Vice Chair. Also on the Red to the Roots committee are Canadian County Commissioner Marc Hader, Cleveland County Commissioner Rod Cleveland, Payne County Clerk Glenna Hall Craig, Republican Third Congressional District Chair Celia Lanham, Tulsa County Vice Chair Joanne Tyree, and Oklahoma City businessman G. Dewayne McAnally. As Jack Welch said, "The team with the best players, wins." I believe we have the best team to lead this effort.

Only 35% of county elected officials in Oklahoma are Republican.

Too many people suggest that these local offices should not be partisan. They think that they are administrative positions without any conservative vs. liberal dynamic. They could not be more wrong! If you're spending taxpayer money and hiring people with that money, you are making conservative or liberal decisions. Our voters are conservative, our federal delegation, our statewide elected officials and our legislature are overwhelmingly Republican, but we haven't yet fully made the connection between conservative Republican ideals and the important work being done at the local level.

As said by the arch liberal Van Jones, "personnel is policy." I would suggest that it's pretty clear that public spending is policy as well. A conservative Republican will be able to break free from the subtle corruption of long term local habits and reform local government into something that represents a pro-growth, limited government, low tax, individual liberty, rule of law form which Oklahoma voters have long been calling for at the state and federal level.

Red to the Roots is first an awareness campaign, and then it will move into a funding and assistance mode as the election cycle approaches. Red to the Roots has a presentation that the committee intends to take into every county of the state in 2016.

Then we will recruit the largest class of highly qualified candidates for these offices and we intend for our nominees to win! As the voters begin to discover that the liberal tendencies of Democrats extend to local office, I expect that they will eagerly support a change that has been a long time coming. I also expect that some conservative Democrats in local office will find the courage to switch to the Republican Party as they see that our party reflects their views far better than the Democrat party.

To invite the Red to the Roots presentation to your Republican party meeting, conservative club or Tea Party meeting contact Richard at engle@RedToTheRoots.org or call 405.640.9219.

About Richard Engle

Richard Engle is President of BellWest America. He has long been a fixture in conservative Republican politics in Oklahoma. He was twice elected to the Bethany City Council, served two terms as President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, and over a decade as Vice President of the Oklahoma Conservative PAC. He is married to Denise Engle, Commissioner for the Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission and they live in Oklahoma City. He may be reached by email at: engle@flash.net

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