Oklahoma House Minority Floor Leader David Perryman, (D-Chickasha) decided not to run for re-election after eight years in the Legislature, leaving his House District 56 seat open — and candidates are jumping at the opportunity.
An attorney, Perryman is known by his fellow legislators as a key resource on parliamentary procedure and an advocate for rural Oklahoma. In a release from his office, Perryman said he hopes his decision not to run for re-election in 2020 will make way for younger members of the House Democratic Caucus to take on leadership roles. Perryman spent more than half of his time at the Capitol in Democratic leadership.
Three candidates are vying to represent the Chickasha-area district, which Perryman won with a margin of at least 10 percent in each of his elections. Republicans Dick Lowe and Randy Talley will run in the Republican primary for the chance to attempt to flip the seat. The winner of the primary will face off against Democratic candidate Craig Parham, who has served as the mayor of Amber for 19 years, in the general election.
The following overview of candidates was derived from publicly available information. All three candidates spoke with Kayla Branch of The Oklahoman after filing for office in April.
House District 56 at a glance
Outgoing officeholder: Rep. David Perryman
Zipcodes represented: 73004, 73005, 73006, 73009, 73015, 73017, 73018, 73038, 73041, 73042, 73047, 73048, 73053, 73059, 73062, 73079, 73089, 73092, 73564, 73651
Counties represented: Caddo, Grady, Kiowa
Dick Lowe (R)
Profession: Former cattle rancher and ag teacher, coordinator for business and industry at the Canadian Valley Technology Center in Chickasha
Platform: Lowe’s website frames him as a champion for rural Oklahoma, emphasizing his connection to agriculture, family and Christianity. Oklahoma, according to his website, is based in agriculture, cattle and “common people with common sense who work uncommonly hard.” Though his website does not outline specific policy positions, he “believes in equipping our young people with the career skills they need to succeed,” and thinks economic success is based on farms and small businesses.
According to his website, Lowe is a social conservative who is against access to abortion and supports the Second Amendment. His Facebook also includes posts supporting teachers and public schools, as well as several offers of support for district residents dealing with fallout from the novel coronavirus. He offers to help with grocery shopping and allow kids and families to visit his lambs.
Links: Website | Facebook
Randy Talley (R)
Town: Chickasha, originally from Anadarko
Profession: Senior vice president for communications at First National Bank & Trust Co. in Chickasha
Platform: Talley’s website says he has never been “a politician” or “overtly political” but that he wants to provide “honest communication about issues that matter.” He cites a commitment to “building responsible, sustainable government” that promotes economic success and Oklahoma’s future. His website describes a “citizens first” philosophy of government based on honest communication from those in power.
In a campaign announcement picked up by the blog Muskogee Politico, Talley cited protecting individual rights as a top priority, in addition to opposing abortion, increasing funding for education and supporting military and law enforcement. Talley, who is a former journalist, also said a focus on political correctness suppresses free speech and threatens civil society.
Talley maintains a blog on his website giving updates on the campaign. Posts describe his belief that voters are concerned about character more than policy, that personal accountability is key to societal success and that the faith community should be respected and listened to. One post describes him as a “defender of robust capitalism, private philanthropy and classical education.”
Talley has also received an “A” rating from the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association for his position that “the right to keep and bear arms is core to our civil liberties.”
Craig Parham (D)
Profession: Volunteer mayor of Amber, owner of Parham Tile USA
Platform: Parham’s top issues are education, health care, and accountability. His website advocates for increased funding for education. Under his health care category, Parham says he wants to “bring our tax dollars back from Washington and put them to use locally,” implying support for expanding Medicaid.
According to his website, Parham will utilize his experience as the long-time mayor of Amber to demand transparency and accountability. Part of that, he says, involves promoting in-state business. “We can’t turn this state around with the same philosophy that created the mess,” a quote on his site reads.
Parham’s website lists accomplishments as mayor, including growing the town’s general fund and facilitating the creation of municipal resources. On his Facebook, Parham has made posts supporting broadband internet access and providing updates on state COVID-19 information.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
The Republican primary between Lowe and Talley will be held on Tuesday, June 30. The winner will face Parham in the Nov. 3 general election.