(Editor’s Note: As mentioned previously, NonDoc will be highlighting political races we have deemed interesting as the 2016 election season rolls on. This is the first installment of a miniseries we’re calling #HotRace.)
As Sen. Susan Paddack (D-Ada) exits her District 13 seat owing to term limits, a diverse cast of candidates has emerged with hopes to take her place. In a nutshell, the Republican candidates have enough references to God, guns and (smaller) government to feed a herd of cattle, while Democrats hope to parlay a focus on education into victory.
The following overview outlines the SD 13 hopefuls for both sides in order of their reported campaign contributions as of the June 20 reporting deadline.
Jet McCoy: Republican rancher, amazing racer
As reported by NewsOK.com, cowboy-cum-candidate Jet McCoy (Facebook / Twitter) has thus far rustled up the most campaign contributions of any contender in any of Oklahoma’s 2016 legislative elections. He’ll need that cash to shore up an otherwise thin political resume, because while his reality-TV fame as a three-time contestant on CBS’s The Amazing Race with his brother Cord may garner sufficient name and face recognition during the Year of the Trump Train, it offers scant substitute for the civic and political involvement of other candidates.
Greg McCortney: Former Ada mayor
Speaking of Donald Trump, runner-up fundraiser Greg McCortney (Facebook / Twitter) has some rhetoric on his campaign page that echoes the presumptive GOP presidential nominee’s hard stance on illegal immigration:
I will work to stop all handouts and benefits to illegal immigrants, secure the borders, and prohibit taxpayer subsidized in-state tuition for non-citizens. Oklahomans’ hard-earned dollars that are paid to the state must be used to take care of our citizens. Every dollar spent on benefits for illegals takes a dollar away from Oklahoma kids’ classrooms.
Like Trump, McCortney’s ability to highlight the right’s political buzzwords should win him points with hardline party voters. Further, he can likely parlay his hand in McCortney Family Hospice and McCortney Family In-home Care to endear himself to the older demographics, a key voter bloc. Last, as mayor of Ada in 2012 and 2013, his municipal tenure could provide adequate political currency to rally support throughout the district.
Shawn Howard: Mrs. Oklahoma 1991
Don’t let her good looks fool you into thinking Shawn Howard (Facebook / Twitter) is a porcelain butterfly: This card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association recently received the highest rating of all District 13 candidates from that organization. The former teacher and current boutique owner also boasts an impressive civic résumé:
- environmental programs manager for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation since 2005
- science department chairwoman for Ardmore and Lone Grove public schools
- Chamber of Commerce member in Ada and Pauls Valley
- holds a master of public health degree with an emphasis in environmental health
As one might expect, Howard’s platform largely reflects that of her party and her GOP opponents, according to the press release announcing her candidacy:
“conservative, small-government principles” … “basic morality and family values” … “reduce federal overreach in Oklahoma” … “address environmental issues from a common-sense conservative business standpoint” … “pro-life, conservative Christian who is a proponent of Bible-based marriage …”
Ada High band director Eric Hall
Ada High band director Eric Hall (Facebook / Twitter) appears to be leading a two-man contest for the left in District 13. While his bootstrapped war chest pales in comparison to opponents across the aisle, it could be plenty to secure a Democratic primary victory June 28. Assuming that’s the case, what else bolsters Hall’s chances for clinching the seat in November?
First, District 13’s voters have favored the Democratic candidate since 2004. Next, outgoing Sen. Paddack was heavy into education, serving as president, vice-president and grant-review chair on the board of the Ada City Schools Foundation, so Hall’s teaching credentials combined with his Ada ties could provide the basis for some formidable #oklaed networking. Relatedly, as the revenue shortfall reverberates through the state in the form of emaciated education budgets, few could argue that there’s a more hot-button issue than school and teacher funding right now, and political newcomer J.J. Dossett‘s (D-Owasso) January win in District 34 sets a precedent for education to be a key component of any candidate’s platform.
Last and actually least: Steve Jarman
Carrying a negative balance in his campaign coffer as of the last financing report filed, former math teacher of 31 years, pest-control business owner and certified scuba instructor Steve Jarman (Facebook) also places a heavy emphasis on education. From his campaign website:
For over 25 years I was an advocate for education issues at the state Capitol, contacting legislators, visiting with them and asking for their support on legislation to improve our schools.
Jarman also makes water-resource issues part of his platform, and remains “adamantly opposed” to selling water from the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer. While that certainly would appear to be a pressing concern for all residents of the district, it appears Jarman lacks adequate popular support if Facebook page likes count for anything: He had 48 as of noon Tuesday. (Hall had 1,141.)