Oklahoma Politics

On this edition of ST, we welcome writer Connie Cronley back to our program. She's one of our regular commentators; her previous books include "Sometimes a Wheel Falls Off," "Light and Variable," "Poke a Stick at It," and "Mr. Ambassador: Warrior for Peace." Cronley joins us to discuss her latest book, "A Life on Fire," which is a fascinating new biography of Kate Barnard (1875-1930).

Stitt Taps Former Company Executive As Oklahoma COO

Jul 13, 2021
OMES

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt said Tuesday he’s named an executive from his former company to serve as the state’s chief operating officer.

Steven Harpe, who previously worked as chief information officer at Stitt’s Gateway Mortgage Group, will continue in his current role as director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services and as deputy secretary of digital transformation and administration.

As COO, Harpe replaces John Budd, a former Sonic Corp. executive who stepped down from his role as Stitt’s COO earlier this month.

Suit Seeks Removal Of Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner

Jul 8, 2021
Courtesy

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A lawsuit seeking to remove one of the state’s three Corporation Commissioners alleges that his being on the board violates the Oklahoma Constitution due to a business conflict of interest.

The suit, filed by former Republican state Rep. Mike Reynolds of Oklahoma City on June 30, claims that Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett’s service on the board of SpiritBank presents a conflict, according to the Tulsa World.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools announced Tuesday she plans to seek the Republican nomination for Oklahoma state superintendent in 2022.

April Grace is a longtime educator who has been superintendent in Shawnee since 2016. In a press release announcing her candidacy, Grace said she already has raised more than $100,000.

Current Republican Superintendent Joy Hofmeister can’t run for the seat again because of term limits.

Term-Limited State Lawmaker To Run For Oklahoma Treasurer

Jun 29, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A term-limited Republican state House member from Cordell said Tuesday he plans to run for Oklahoma state treasurer.

Rep. Todd Russ, 60, is a longtime banker who is finishing his sixth term in the House, where he represents parts of five western Oklahoma counties. Russ said he plans to seek the post being vacated by Republican Randy McDaniel, who announced earlier this month that he wouldn’t seek re-election.

Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten also has announced he plans to seek the Republican nomination for state treasurer.

Field Seeking To Run For Oklahoma Governor Grows To 5

Jun 22, 2021

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The number of people planning to run for Oklahoma governor next year is continuing to grow, with two more candidates filing paperwork to seek the office.

Independent Paul Tay, a perennial political candidate from Tulsa, and Libertarian Natalie Bruno of Edmond both filed paperwork with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission indicating their plans to run. That brings to five the number of candidates seeking to run for governor in 2022, including incumbent Republican Kevin Stitt.

Stitt's Chief Operating Officer To Step Down

Jun 3, 2021
Sonic

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday that his chief operating officer, John Budd, will step down effective July 2.

Budd was the state’s first COO and a member of Stitt’s cabinet since he took office.

With the legislative session having just wrapped up, Budd said it was a “good time for me to move on to my next journey.”

Before joining the Stitt administration, Budd was chief strategy and business development officer for Oklahoma City-based Sonic Corp.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former Democratic state senator from Oklahoma City has filed paperwork to run for Oklahoma governor in 2022.

Connie Johnson filed a statement of organization last week with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, which allows her to start raising and spending money on her campaign.

Johnson is the first Democrat to file paperwork indicating plans to run for the seat. Former state Sen. Ervin Yen, a Republican from Oklahoma City, also has filed candidacy paperwork indicating he plans to challenge Gov. Kevin Stitt in the GOP primary.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we get to know Kojo Asamoa-Caesar, who is the Democrat running for Congress in Oklahoma's First District. As noted at his campaign website: "Asamoa-Caesar is a first-generation American, the son of a certified nursing assistant and a taxi driver who were drawn to the United States from Ghana by the call of the American Dream....

On this installment of StudioTulsa, we begin a series of programs featuring conversations with candidates seeking the office of Tulsa mayor. With a non-partisan primary coming up on August 25th, voters will either elect (or re-elect) Tulsa's next mayor -- if any one candidate gets over 50% of the vote -- or the field will be narrowed down to two mayoral candidates, who will in turn appear on the November ballot.

On this edition of ST, we're talking about State Question 802, the Medicaid expansion initiative that Oklahoma voters will cast ballots for or against on Tuesday of next week. This measure, per ballotpedia.org, would "expand Medicaid in Oklahoma under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. It would provide Medicaid coverage for certain low-income adults between 18 and 65 with incomes at or below 133% of the federal poverty level (FPL).

Wikipedia

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The only U.S. Senate seat up for grabs in Oklahoma drew a crowded field of challengers as the state’s three-day filing period for political office ended Friday.

Four Democrats, three Republicans, two independents and a Libertarian filed this week to challenge Sen. Jim Inhofe for the seat. The Republican incumbent, who has held the seat since 1994, is seeking another six-year term.

Family of Bob Gregory

Bob Gregory died earlier this week of natural causes. He was 88. A longtime presence on Tulsa radio and television, Gregory started at KTUL Radio in 1960, after working at stations in Arkansas and Colorado. His pioneering career in broadcasting began in his late teens, in the early 1950s, immediately after service in the Army.

On this edition of ST, we get to know Ahniwake Rose, the incoming executive director of the nonprofit, non-partisan Oklahoma Policy Institute (a/k/a OK Policy). Rose, originally from Oklahoma, has spent nearly 20 years working at the intersection of public policy and nonprofit management. Previously, she was the Deputy Director of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), a national organization serving the interests of tribal governments and communities.

In the immediate wake of Governor Stitt's State of the State Address, and as the 2019 legislative session gets underway in OKC, we welcome back to StudioTulsa our longtime colleague David Blatt, who's been the Executive Director of the non-partisan, non-profit OK Policy think tank since 2010. Blatt chats with us in detail about what lawmakers at the State Capitol might attempt or accomplish regarding education, criminal justice, health, economic opportunity, taxes, and the state's budget.

On this edition of ST, we continue our series of interviews with the major candidates currently running for Oklahoma Governor. Our guest today is Chris Powell, the Libertarian candidate. (Please note that we've repeatedly tried to email and telephone Republican Kevin Stitt in order to set up such an interview; no one from the Stitt campaign has gotten back to us.) As Chris Powell states on his campaign website: "I grew up in Choctaw as the youngest of five children. My father was a truck driver and my mother a bookkeeper.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, with Election Day one week away, we begin a series of interviews with the major candidates currently running for governor. Our guest today is Drew Edmondson, the Democratic candidate, who previously served as Oklahoma's Attorney General for 16 years. As noted at the Edmondson campaign website: "Upon graduation from college, Drew enlisted in the United States Navy, where he reached the rank of Petty Officer Second Class and served a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Our guest is the former long-serving Mayor of Oklahoma City, Mick Cornett, who joins us to discuss his new book, "The Next American City: The Big Promise of Our Midsize Metros." The book offers a hopeful and detailed look at the many dynamic urban centers that will serve as (according to Cornett) active and rapidly evolving focal points for the United States in the coming years. In cities like Oklahoma City, Indianapolis, Charleston, and Des Moines, Cornett sees urban settings of relatively modest size but truly outsized accomplishment. They (and other U.S.

Medical Marijuana was approved by voters here in Oklahoma as recently as June of this year, yet so much is happening on this front -- medically, politically, economically, legislatively, etc. -- that it can be rather difficult to stay informed. On this edition of ST Medical Monday, our guest is Jackie Fortier, the StateImpact Oklahoma reporter who covers health and medicine for KWGS, KGOU, KOSU, and other public radio outlets across the state. Fortier brings us up to speed on the fast-moving, far-reaching story that is Medical Marijuana in Oklahoma.

(Note: This show originally aired back in February.) "Bobby BlueJacket: The Tribe, The Joint, The Tulsa Underworld" is a well-researched book exploring little-known aspects of American crime, Native American identity, and smalltown politics in the 20th century. It's also an engrossing biography of a real and remarkable person: Bobby BlueJacket, born in 1930, who grew up in Tulsa amid teenage rumbles, mean streets, dangerous pool halls, and Midwest safecracker crews -- and who actually went from being a career thief to a prison journalist to a Eastern Shawnee Indian activist.

On this edition of ST, we continue our series of conversations with the major candidates running to fill the open seat in Oklahoma's 1st Congressional District. Our guest is Tim Harris, a Republican, who was elected District Attorney for Tulsa County in 1998 and was, as noted at the Harris campaign website, "the longest serving DA in Tulsa County history.

On this edition of StudioTulsa, we continue our series of conversations with the major candidates running to fill the open seat in Oklahoma's 1st Congressional District. Yesterday we aired a discussion with Democratic candidate Amanda Douglas; today we chat with Tim Gilpin, also a Democrat. Mr. Gilpin, as noted at his website, "has practiced law in Oklahoma since 1986. Over his career, Tim has worked in both private practice and for the State of Oklahoma.

On this edition of ST, we begin our series of interviews with the major candidates running to fill the open seat in Oklahoma's 1st Congressional District. Our guest tomorrow will be Democratic candidate Tim Gilpin; on today's program, we interview Amanda Douglas, also a Democrat. As per the Douglas campaign website: "Amanda Douglas was born and raised in Oklahoma. As one of four children in a low-income family, [she] wasn't handed a lot of opportunities in life.

Our guest on ST is Dr. Sunil Aggarwal, who grew up in Oklahoma and is now based in the Seattle area. He's a medical marijuana expert who's also a clinical instructor at the University of Washington School of Medicine; his focus is on the use of cannabis in clinical practice, medical research, and education. Dr. Aggarwal holds degrees in medicine, medical geography, chemistry, philosophy, and religious studies. He'll be speaking in support of State Question 788 today (the 8th) here in Tulsa, and then he'll do so tomorrow (the 9th) in Norman, Oklahoma.

The 2018 Session of the Oklahoma State Legislature recently adjourned, and what a session it was. For the first time since State Question 640 passed in 1992, the Legislature was able to raise revenues by green-lighting an increase in the Gross Production Tax rate as well as increases in fuel and cigarette taxes (with all of these increases passing the 75% threshold, as required by the State Constitution).

How will this state's very serious budget problems get solved? And when? What, in the end, is it going to take? On this edition of StudioTulsa, we learn about Step Up Oklahoma, which is, per its website, a "nonpartisan group of business, civic, and community leaders [who have come] together to work with lawmakers to...stabilize state revenue, reform government to increase efficiency and cut abuse, and raise teacher pay by $5,000 a year." Our guest is OKC businessman and attorney, Glenn Coffee, who is a vocal member of the Step Up Oklahoma outfit.

The Citizens United ruling, surely among the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court decisions of the modern era, was a 5-4 vote in 2010 affirming that the freedom of speech prohibits the government from restricting independent political expenditures by nonprofit corporations, for-profit corporations, labor unions, and certain other groups. It's a ruling that, interestingly, is opposed by people all over the political spectrum: red, blue, purple, independent, libertarian, etc. On this edition of ST, we learn about a nationwide effort to render this ruling null and void.

Last week's Oklahoma Supreme Court decision invalidating the State Legislature's cigarette cessation fee means that there's now a $214 million budget deficit in this year's budget. This gives Oklahoma lawmakers two options: go back into special session to fix the state budget, or else three state agencies -- the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Human Services, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services -- will have to rewrite their budgets to account for a roughly $70 million cut to each agency. So, what will state lawmakers do?

What's to be done regarding the troubling condition of Oklahoma's budget? Lawmakers in OKC have only about a month left to address this serious budget shortfall in the 2017 session of the Oklahoma Legislature, and fixing what Gov. Fallin has recently called "the state's structural budget deficit" seems less and less likely. Therefore, about two dozen nonprofit and professional organizations from across the state have formed the so-called Save Our State Coalition. Our guest is David Blatt, executive director of the OK Policy Institute, which is a member of this coalition.

The "penny sales tax" for education didn't pass, but voters here in the Sooner State did back criminal justice reform; the "Right to Farm" State Question was rejected, yet Republicans won big all over Oklahoma on Election Day, as, indeed, they did nationwide. On this edition of StudioTulsa, we are joined by David Blatt of the OK Policy Institute, an non-partisan, non-profit think tank.

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