The House District 18 Republican primary will decide the seat’s next representative, as the three Republican candidates on the ballot enter the election without another challenger.
Incumbent Rep. David Smith (R-Arpelar) drew criticism from both sides of the aisle earlier this year for his authorship of House Bill 3359, which would have implemented a version of “stop and frisk” policies. Smith later said he had “cremated” the bill, which never reached the floor.
Smith is finishing his first term representing the southeastern Oklahoma district. He is the vice chairman of the House Wildlife Committee.
In the primary, he will face off against sculptress and “artistic evangelist” Brenda Angel and McAlester-based attorney Brecken Wagner.
The following information was derived from publicly available sources. The primary election will be held on June 30, and there will be no general election as no candidate from another party is running.
HD 18 at a glance
Current office holder: Rep. David Smith
Zip codes represented: 74425, 74426, 74428, 74430, 74432, 74437, 74438, 74442, 74445, 74501, 74530, 74531, 74534, 74535, 74538, 74553, 74556, 74570, 74572, 74576, 74825, 74827, 74839, 74845, 74848, 74850, 74871
Counties represented: Coal, Hughes, McIntosh, Pittsburg
Cities/townships represented: Allen, Arpelar, Ashland, Atwood, Bromide, Calvin, Canadian, Centrahoma, Coalgate, Crowder, Eufaula, Gerty, Hanna, Hitchita, Horntown, Indianola, Kiowa, Lamar, Lehigh, Longtown, McAlester, Phillips, Savanna, Stidham, Stuart, Tupelo
Rep. David Smith (R, incumbent)
Profession: State representative, U.S. Army veteran
Platform: Smith grew up outside of Nashoba, Oklahoma, primarily spending his childhood “hoeing peanuts” and other crops. He told the McIntosh Democrat in 2018 that he dropped out of school at 15 and got a job to help support his family. After finding jobs in the construction and oil industries, Smith completed his G.E.D. and joined the Army, specializing in military intelligence.
First elected in 2018 without running much of a campaign, Smith has previously supported pro-life legislation, including a bill allowing the state to revoke the medical licenses of doctors who perform abortions.
In the 2020 session, he authored a law enforcement bill which would have allowed officers to stop, question and detain anyone they “reasonably suspect” of committing or preparing to commit a crime. The bill passed the Judiciary Committee but it moved no further in the process.
In the 2018 McIntosh Democrat article, Smith said the top three issues facing rural Oklahoma are education, economic development and access to health care. He said education should be tailored to “match the jobs that are needed in our rural areas,” which he said would contribute to economic development and bring larger businesses to southeast Oklahoma.
Smith has proposed the creation of a “District 18 fund” which would benefit residents with specific financial needs, like “groceries or (paying) a bill.”
Brenda Angel (R)
Profession: Artist, paralegal, evangelist
Platform: Angel has worn many hats throughout her adult life, according to her LinkedIn profile, which features entries listing her as a real estate agent, sculptress and broadcast design student.
Angel’s profile says she has a doctorate in theology from Rhema Bible Training College in Broken Arrow and that she is “a certified Nutritional Counselor and a Doctor of Naturopathy.”
Angel describes herself as a devout Christian and writes that she has also been a Sunday school teacher and helped excavate fossils for the Creation Evidence Museum.
On her campaign website, Angel writes that she will oppose abortion and expand resources for mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs. Angel says she also supports “medical transparency and parental rights,” and the patient’s right to be informed of “alternative solutions.” She is a Second Amendment supporter and favors alternatives to traditional public schooling. In a YouTube video, Angel has also criticized Smith for his authorship of HB 3359, the bill Smith proposed that would have expanded law enforcement’s ability to stop, question and investigate individuals.
On her LinkedIn profile, Angel writes that she has had no formal schooling in art, but the urge to begin sculpting came to her in a dream. She then found that she could “do any form of art with ease,” including playing the violin. Angel has finished sculptures of President Donald Trump and former President Ronald Reagan, alongside other religious-themed art.
Brecken Wagner (R)
Profession: Attorney, Wagner & Lynch Law
Platform: On his campaign website, Wagner writes that his lack of connections to the “entrenched establishment” of Oklahoma politics makes him an ideal person to represent House District 18’s constituents as an everyman candidate.
Born in Missouri, Wagner studied at Pittsburg State before transferring to Benedictine College, where he graduated with a degree in political science. Wagner earned a law degree at Oklahoma City University and opened his firm in 2013 after working at other Oklahoma City firms and for the state of Missouri.
Wagner writes that he is running for office because he is concerned about southeast Oklahoma’s shrinking population and economy. One of Wagner’s top priorities is securing additional funding for public education, according to his website. Wagner specifically mentions securing additional resources for children who need more direct help in their education, noting his experience as father to a son on the autism spectrum.
Wagner states that health insurance should “cover all surgeries, therapies and medication costs for children” if two specialists can agree on a course of treatment, including experimental treatments.
Wagner also writes that he would prioritize further prison reform, citing an expansion of “the promise of SQ 781,” a state question that directed funding to mental health and substance abuse programs. Wagner would also pursue a more uniform system of setting bonds statewide, according to his campaign website. He states that he is a pro-life candidate.
More Info: Website | Facebook
(Update: This article was updated at 9:15 a.m. Thursday, June 25, to clarify information about a bill in the 2020 legislative session.)