House District 1
Eddy Dempsey and Eric Ensley will compete for Oklahoma's State House District 1 on June 30, 2020. (NonDoc)

Two southeastern Oklahoma natives will be jockeying for the open seat in House District 1 on June 30.

The seat, which is currently held by Rep. Johnny Tadlock (R-Idabel), spans the southeastern corner of the state. Tadlock was first elected in 2014 and served as a Democrat until after the 2018 election, which he won unopposed. Tadlock is not yet term-limited, but he chose not to run again, leaving the Idabel and Broken Bow-area seat open for two Republicans, Eddy Dempsey and Eric Ensley.

Dempsey and Ensley will compete in the Republican primary on June 30. Since they are the only two candidates, the winner of the primary will also be the new representative for HD 1.

The following overview of the candidates was derived from publicly available information.

House District 1 at a glance

Officeholder: Rep. Johnny Tadlock
ZIP codes represented: 74549, 74571, 74577, 74722, 74724, 74728, 74734, 74736, 74740, 74745, 74750, 74754, 74755, 74764, 74766, 74937, 74939, 74949, 74957, 74963, 74966
Counties represented: LeFlore, McCurtain


Eddy Dempsey (R)

Eddy Dempsey

Town: Valliant
Profession: Farmer, field representative
Platform: Dempsey’s website describes him as “a Donald Trump Republican” and “part of the #MAGA team” who is pro-life and a supporter of the Second Amendment. Dempsey promises to “fight against the big Oklahoma City politicians who seek to rob us of our resources” and to support religious freedom.

According to his website, Dempsey worked for Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2) as a congressional field representative and helped the state’s southeastern region by cleaning up after 2015 floods and dealing with water quality issues.

Dempsey is a member of the NRA, as well as Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation and Quail Forever, according to his website. In late May, Tadlock endorsed Dempsey in a Facebook post, saying:

Good people running for D1 State Representative however my choice is Eddie Dempsey. He will be able to accomplish more while keeping District One Values !!!  Just a Fact!!! Whomever you choose go Vote !!!

Links: Website | Facebook

Eric Ensley (R)

Eric Ensley

Town: Idabel
Profession: Chiropractor
Platform: Ensley’s website describes his main priorities as preventing tax increases, ending abortion, limiting government power and protecting individual rights. His platform also emphasizes oversight of the use of taxes, responsible funding for and local control of education and decreased government regulation of small businesses.

According to his website, Ensley believes “the Christian church has a duty to engage in the government,” and that the U.S. Constitution does not mandate the separation of church and state. He also defines marriage as “a lifetime covenant between one man, one woman, and God,” and shared a post denouncing the Oklahoma Education Association for honoring the work of Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC), who has brought forth legislation increasing opportunities for LGBTQ individuals.

OEA awards state Rep. Jason Dunnington for several bills he filed this year, including legislation that supports the…

Posted by Ensley for House 2020 on Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Ensley’s website also includes language denying the existence of transgender and non-binary individuals, as he claims: “There are only two genders — male and female. God made each of us in His perfect wisdom and no hormone or surgery can change that.”

Ensley was endorsed by the NRA and the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, both of which gave him “A” ratings. He shared on his Facebook endorsements from Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights and Oklahomans United for Life.
Links: Website | Facebook