On June 30, Enid attorney Taylor Venus will challenge incumbent Rep. Chad Caldwell (R-Enid) for the second time in as many election cycles.
Caldwell, who was first elected to House District 40 in 2014, beat Venus by just more than 300 votes in 2018.
Caldwell is the chairman of the Health Services and Long-Term Care Committee, and he also sits on the Common Education, Public Health and Appropriations and Budget committees. In 2018, Caldwell was the leading challenger to House Speaker Charles McCall’s attempt at another term as head of the House. McCall prevailed and has been designated for another term in 2021 and 2022.
As no other candidates filed for the Enid seat, the primary on Tuesday, June 30, will decide the seat.
The following overview of the candidates was derived from publicly available information.
House District 40 at a glance
Officeholder: Rep. Chad Caldwell
ZIP codes represented: 73701, 73703
Counties represented: Garfield
Cities/municipalities represented: Enid, North Enid
Rep. Chad Caldwell (R)
Profession: Executive director of Hospice Circle of Love
Platform: Caldwell’s website promises he will work on “making Oklahoma better together.” He cites improving the state for his children as the primary reason he is running for re-election. According to his website, his vision for Oklahoma is a “state that is financially secure with traditional family values.”
According to Caldwell’s website, he wants to direct tax dollars to schools, public safety and infrastructure. He aims to support small businesses and eliminate government waste and inefficiency.
Caldwell believes the best way to improve the education system is to give control to localities and allow school employees and parents to make decisions about education. He also promises to protect the rights of gun owners and advocate for anti-abortion policies.
In the most recent legislative session, Caldwell sponsored a bill expanding access to advanced placement courses for students, which was signed into law in May. His complete legislative record can be found here.
Taylor Venus (R)
Platform: Venus’ website promises “new energy, fresh ideas, conservative values” to the voters in HD 40. His campaign emphasizes listening to the residents in his district and prioritizing communication, describing him as someone who will be involved in the community he serves.
Venus’ nine-part platform promises to put HD 40 first by equipping the education system with funding and resources, eliminating regulations to bring business to the state and striving for long-term fiscal stability.
In health care, Venus wants to encourage competition in order to lower prices, support telemedicine and rural health care and stabilize prescription drug costs.
Venus promises to defend constitutional rights, including religious freedom and gun ownership. His platform also includes opposing measures that do not “protect life,” from abortion to physician-assisted suicide. He will encourage collaboration between the nearby Vance Air Force Base and the district, according to his website.
In an interview with the Enid News & Eagle, Venus offered a veiled criticism of Caldwell.
“If you want things done right, sometimes you’ve got to jump in and fix it,” he said. “It seems obvious that a representative should listen to their constituents.”