Canadian County runoffs

(Correction: This article has been updated to note Chad Slane’s “teaching career” as referenced on his website and on LinkedIn. NonDoc regrets the error.)

(Editor’s Note: As with NonDoc’s #HotRaces series from June, time constraints and limited resources prohibit us from personally interviewing each of almost 30 candidates from Oklahoma’s ongoing runoff elections that we’ve chosen to include in a new series: #OKrunoffs. Instead, we’ve opted to filter information about runoff contenders using publicly available information online and present it through the lens of political commentary and analysis. As the field narrows leading up to the general election Nov. 8, we plan to reach out to remaining candidates more directly.)

GOP voters in Canadian County and Grady County could have multiple races on their Aug. 23 runoff ballots, as Senate District 23 and House District 60 both have tight races.

Senate District 23

Located mostly in Grady and Canadian counties, State Senate District 23 is an open seat owing to term limits on Sen. Ron Justice (R-Chickasha). In this 19-minute snoozer of a video about his life, the former county-extension agent describes himself as someone who is “perfectly comfortable just being quiet,” and he notes the challenges his introverted nature provided him in the Legislature.

In the primary to replace Justice, Lonnie Paxton fell 33 votes shy of 50.1 percent. Now, the former mayor of Tuttle will face attorney Matt Stacy in the runoff.

Each man has an extensive résumé with a variety of career notches on his belt. Combined, their identity politics make for a hefty theoretical candidate: former mayor, attorney, farmer, small-businessman, volunteer firefighter, national guard member and college football player.

The only things missing, conceivably, would be health care provider and teacher. Interestingly, education could be a point of divergence between the two men.

Stacy lists “fight for parental choice in educating their children” as one of his issues, which is a fancy way of saying he supports vouchers that give families chunks of tax dollars for use toward private schooling or homeschooling expenses.

Paxton, on the other hand, lists on his education issues page that he “is the husband of a public school teacher” and “is dedicated to protecting our schools.”

In a party-runoff election where two candidates appear to agree on most things, that’s an opportunity for each to draw a distinction. The question might be whether GOP voters in Chickasha, El Reno and other SD 23 communities value their public schools or the concept of vouchers and choice more.

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House District 60

Rep. Dan Fisher (R-El Reno) is one of about 10 House members who chose not to run for re-election even though they had not reached term limits.

Following a special election, Fisher served only three years, gaining his most notoriety for attempting to prohibit AP U.S. history from being taught in Oklahoma schools. While that position was probably popular among the 14-to-17 age demographic, much of the state expressed outrage over Fisher’s grandstanding, which drew national headlines.

Vying to replace Fisher in the El Reno-area seat will be Democrat and Choctaw Nation citizen Dennis Purifoy.

On the Republican side, teacher Rhonda Baker received 48 percent of the primary vote. Baker is a graduate of Redlands Community College in the district, but her website fails to list issues that are important to her. Instead, the site asks people wanting to learn about her platform to fill out the “Contact Us” section.

Under the heading “My Values,” Baker notes that “Humility is a gift.” Her Facebook page indicates that she has the support of nearby Rep. Leslie Osborn (R-Tuttle) and Rep. Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher).

Meanwhile, 38 percent of voters went for Chad Slane, a man who chose to omit specifics about what he’s done in his life on his website and his Facebook about section.

“I’m the only candidate with experience when it comes to knowledge of how our government was set up,” Slane said in a Facebook post.

His website makes reference to his “teaching career,” and his LinkedIn page lists him as a social studies teacher within OKCPS for the past 14 months.

Slane has been endorsed, however, by Patrick Case, the third GOP primary candidate in the district, which could give him momentum heading into the runoff.

Internet research reveals that Slane has been an actor in movies as well as the frontman for the rock band Spinal Cross, which offers solid production value for that vintage 1992 butt-rock sound:

The runoff election will be Tuesday, but early voting has already begun at county courthouses.

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