Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Fair endores JONES/LAPLANTE!
By Steve Fair
Gary Jones, the current State Republican Chairman, is seeking re-election. Angie LaPlante, the current 5th district Chair of the State Party, is running for Vice Chair. The two are running as a team. I am wholeheartedly supporting this ticket because it's critical that Oklahoma Republicans continue to set the example of building the grassroots- precinct by precinct,county by county and district by district. The Republican National Committee could learn a valuable lesson by looking at what has been accomplished in Oklahoma in recent years.
Gary Jones has had his detractors during his tenure as State Chair. He has been maligned by conservative political Pharisees, undercut by powerful GOP elected officials, and bypassed by political pragmatists, yet through it all Jones has maintained his cool and been remarkably effective. The primary reason is that Gary doesn't hold a grudge and can forgive and move on better than anyone I know. That's a rare quality and one I wished I possessed. Gary believes in "the cause." Gary wants to leave Oklahoma a better place for his kids and grand kids. During Gary's tenure at the State Party, Republicans have taken the majority in the State House and the State Senate. Last cycle, Oklahoma was the reddest of the red states-all seventy seven counties in Oklahoma voted for John McCain, the State Senate became RED for the first time in state history. We won both Corporation Commission races and returned Senator Inhofe to the Senate. Gary wasn't given sufficient credit for those accomplishments, but rest assured if Oklahoma Republicans would have performed like most of the country, Gary Jones would have been singled out by party hacks and chumps as the reason for the failure. The inconsistency of that slays me. Every good election can't be the result of the consultants and elected officials great strategy and every bad election can't be because Party officials failed. But we didn't fail in 2008 and a major reason for that was the leadership of Gary Jones!
Much of the success Republicans have enjoyed at the polls in the past few years is due to Gary's understanding that GRASSROOTS and GROUND GAME win races. It's not just about money and Gary understands that. Don't misunderstand- Gary is a successful fundraiser and has kept the Oklahoma State Republican Party in the black during tough economic times. Gary is fiscally conservative. He isn't wasteful with Party money. Jones is innovative and embraces new methods of reaching the voter. Gary is an ethical, principled man with strong family ties-he and his wife have been married over thirty years. Oklahoma Republicans are blessed to have a Chairman who is inclusive, fair-minded, and easy to work with. Those three characteristics are the reason I can unreservedly recommend Gary Jones for re-election.
Angie LaPlante and I have worked together for several years. We are both District Chairs in the State Party which allows us to serve on the State Executive Committee. Angie is an enthusiastic individual whose proven leadership in the OFRW resulted in amazing growth in that organization. Angie is a grassroots person-she knows that elections are won by engaging the voter-not debating among ourselves or preaching to the choir. Angie spearheaded a drive to distribute thousands of pieces of literature in Oklahoma County. Her program was not unlike the model the Stephens County GOP has used to engage voters. In 2008, dozens of people showed up every Saturday in Duncan to pass out literature for every local candidate on the ballot all across the county. They went house to house, street by street. They put RUBBER TO THE ROAD! Angie puts action behind her words. She helps candidates get elected by raising money and helping them get their message to the voter. Like Gary, Angie is easy to work with and fair-minded. I recommend that Angie LaPlante be elected Vice Chairperson at the State Convention April 18th.
Those that know me-and there are a those who think they do, but don't- recognize that I believe the answer to Republicans getting back into the majority is embracing GRASSROOTS involvement and emphasising a strong GROUND GAME in campaigns instead of raising obscene sums of money, and using mass media to get their message out. Because few voters are paying attention, BIG MONEY often works, but it's a short sighted strategy that will result in an oligarchy. An oligarchy is a form of government where political power effectively rests with a small elite segment of society often distinguished by wealth and family. If the average citizen is not awakened and energized by what is going on around him, only the elite will have any voice in elections and the principle of SELF-RULE is dead.
The Oklahoma Republican Party in the not too recent past-before Gary- embraced the oligarchy method, but when Gary was elected Chairman, he begin the task to build the grassroots. Political consultants and hirelings viewed that philosophy as old school and out of touch and tried their dead level best to insure Jones' failure. But if you do your research and check where Republicans have performed best in Oklahoma the last four years, you'll find it was in geographic areas where GRASSROOTS and a strong GROUND GAME was emphasised.
Gary and Angie and their philosophy of political leadership is one of servitude and graciousness. What better way to attract uninvolved conservative citizens into becoming more active than by being nice? You don't have to compromise your convictions or change your value system to be civil to people. Jones and LaPlante are mature adults and understand that simple premise. Gary and Angie are not confrontational individuals or unpleasant to deal with. They can disagree without being disagreeable. Those are critical characteristics in effective leaders. If you are a delegate, I urge you to cast your vote for Jones/LaPlante at the Oklahoma State Republican Convention on Saturday April 18, 2009.

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