Sen. Paul Scott has made some headlines during his four years representing Senate District 43, but those headlines have not always been positive.
As a result, Scott (R-Duncan) is being challenged by fellow Republican Jessica Garvin for the State Senate district that covers Duncan, Pauls Valley and Rush Springs. He is also facing an abortion abolitionist named Kaity Keith in the GOP primary. A Democrat named Terri Reimer filed for the seat also but does not appear to be running an active campaign.
Garvin has been campaigning against Scott for more than a year, and the pair know each other professionally in southwest Oklahoma. Garvin is a nursing home and assisted living center administrator, and Scott owns a mobile x-ray company.
The race has grown slightly negative, with Scott spending at least $1,000 on a Facebook ad promoting the website TruthAboutGarvin.com, which alleges Garvin is a “liberal political insider” who has received donations from a member of Hillary Clinton’s Oklahoma Leadership Council. Garvin says she grew up with that individual’s spouse, but Scott says Garvin has been trying to get Democrats to change their voter registration to support her.
Meanwhile, Keith has been criticizing Scott in Facebook ads for not supporting the abortion abolitionist movement. At the same time, multiple people have sent NonDoc a February 2019 Newcastle Police Department report about a speeding ticket Scott received.
Senate District 43 at a glance
Incumbent: Sen. Paul Scott
Zip codes represented: 73002, 73010, 73011, 73017, 73052, 73055, 73057, 73065, 73067, 73072, 73074, 73080, 73082, 73093, 73095, 73425, 73434, 73438, 73442, 73481, 73491, 73529, 73533, 74831, 74872
Counties represented: Stephens, Garvin, Grady, McClain
Cities/Townships represented: Duncan, Pauls Valley, Rush Springs, Washington, Wayne, Velma
Sen. Paul Scott (R, incumbent)
Profession: State senator, owner of Sooner Mobile X-ray
Platform: Scott grew up on a ranch in Cyril before becoming a radiology technician.
“In 2001, he started doing mobile x-ray out of his garage,” Scott’s official Senate bio says. “Today, his business, Sooner Mobile X-Ray employs 15 people and provides mobile x-ray, EKG, and ultrasound services to nursing facilities, home health agencies, and jails across the state of Oklahoma.”
Scott was first elected in 2016 when he ousted incumbent GOP Sen. Corey Brooks in a primary and won the general election with 75 percent of the vote. Scott previously served on the Duncan Public Schools Foundation Board, and he also serves on the board for the Oklahoma Baptist Foundation.
In the Legislature, Scott was one of the first Republican senators to express public support for raising the gross production tax, which unlocked the votes necessary to fund historic teacher pay raises. Despite being criticized by one of his GOP opponents on the topic of abortion, Scott promotes the fact that he authored an abortion restriction measure that passed the Senate (but did not receive a hearing in the House).
In 2017, Scott insinuated in the Duncan Banner that he might work to eliminate the Oklahoma City Thunder’s lucrative Quality Jobs Act incentives if any of the NBA team’s players decided to kneel during the National Anthem. Scott’s diatribe on the topic received significant media attention, including a lampooning from The Lost Ogle.
In 2019, The Lost Ogle put Scott in its spotlight again owing to a bizarre situation where Scott attempted to prank one of his female colleagues by sabotaging her chair on the Senate floor, a joke he said had been played on himself and others.
“I sincerely apologize for my un-professional behavior on the Senate floor. It was disrespectful to the decorum of the Senate Floor,” Scott wrote in a March 2019 letter to all senators. “Please know that I will not act in that manner again. It is a privilege to serve and I will respect the Senate Floor decorum going forward.”
One month prior, Scott had his remarks chronicled by another entity — the Newcastle Police Department — when he was written a speeding ticket Feb. 16, 2019, after a speaking engagement at OU. In his report, the officer wrote that a friendly Scott identified himself as “your Oklahoma senator” but changed his demeanor after receiving the ticket:
I then informed Scott that I was issuing him a citation for 1-10 miles per hour over the posted speed limit. Scott’s demeanor immediately changed. I showed Scott where at on the citation the fine was located as well as the court date. Scott the (sic) stated, “You know I am on official business and I technically didn’t even have to stop!” I didn’t exactly understand what Scott meant by “he didn’t even have to stop” so I began to ask him what he meant, but before I could he stated “I am not even worried by this. I am going to talk to your Mayor! I am going to talk to gene!” I then instructed Scott to have a safe night. I turned around and began to walk back to my patrol vehicle. As I was walking back Scott put the vehicle in drive and purposely accelerated the vehicle in such a manner that the rear tires spun out from under the vehicle causing small pieces of debris to his (sic) me and my patrol vehicle.
Scott told NonDoc the interaction with the Newcastle officer was more innocent and nuanced than the report indicated. He said he “could tell he was a new officer. I could tell he was nervous,” which is why he introduced himself as a senator.
Scott said he referenced part of the Oklahoma Constitution that notes lawmakers shall “be privileged from arrest” when the Legislature is in session.
“I said, ‘I’m just telling you that’s the law.’ He said, ‘Well, I don’t know anything about that.’ I said, ‘OK, no problem,'” Scott recalled. “I said, ‘Well, I know the mayor here, I know the Mayor Gene Reed, and he’s going to kid me and give me a major hard time about getting a speeding ticket in Newcastle.”
Contrary to the report, Scott said the officer was already back in his car when Scott drove away.
“I was parked to the side of the road and in the grass and in the dirt. It’s a big slope there,” Scott said. “So when I took off, my tires did spin. They did throw a little gravel and a little rocks, but it wasn’t Dukes of Hazzard. And whenever I got on the pavement, I didn’t leave rubber going 50 feet or anything.”
Scott is vice chairman of the Senate Select Agencies Committee, and he also serves on the Appropriations and Budget, Education, General Government and Health and Human Services committees.
Scott’s website lists a litany of traditional Republican platform positions, and he has been endorsed by U.S. Sen. James Lankford, State Sen. Rob Standridge (R-Norman), Senate Appropriations and Budget Chairman Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) and McClain County Sheriff Don Hewett. He has also been endorsed by the NRA and the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association.
Jessica Garvin (R)
Profession: Co-founder Bison Home Management, administrator for Gregston Nursing Home and West Wind Assisted Living Center licensed nursing home administrator, licensed assisted living administrator
Platform: Garvin is an administrator for Gregston Nursing Home and West Wind Assisted Living Center in Marlow, and she announced her campaign May 29, 2019.
“My passion has been demonstrated throughout my professional career by improving Oklahoma’s health care system, mental health programs, rural health care, education, community improvement and small business growth,” Garvin said in her announcement.
Prior to working as a long-term care administrator, Garvin worked in public relations and marketing for PharmcareUSA, a company that operates pharmacies serving nursing home and assisted living patients in 16 states.
According to a 2019 article, Garvin “is the treasurer of the Oklahomans for Quality Senior Care Political Action Committee Board of Directors and serves as the Beautiful Day Foundation School liaison. She also owns a clothing boutique.”
In May, a woman responded to one of Garvin’s Facebook posts to criticize the long-term care administrator for campaigning door-to-door during the COVID-19 pandemic without wearing a mask.
The subject was discussed in an article by The Oklahoman, and others sent messages to media noting their concern about Garvin campaigning while working at establishments that serve high-risk populations.
Garvin told NonDoc that she spoke with multiple physicians and reviewed recommendations before deciding to knock doors for the primary election.
“Because I’m in the health care industry, it was something that I took very seriously. I wanted to make sure that I kept myself and my family safe, but also my residents safe,” Garvin said. “We just did everything according to what we felt was best. To be quite honest, she was the only person who had a negative response to me knocking. I totally respect her and how she felt about it, and I don’t want to downplay that at all. I was just really thankful for the opportunity to explain myself to her, and I think we left in a good place.”
On her website, Garvin says she believes “small business growth, developing a stronger educational system, decreasing wasteful spending, and creating a stronger infrastructure to help grow our local economies are the keys to driving Oklahoma to the top.”
Kaity Keith (R)
Profession: Special education teacher
Platform: Keith’s website describes her with three words: “Abolitionist – Patriot – Voice.” A native of the town Washington, she works as an “an autism teacher for elementary-aged, special education students,” according to her site. She describes herself as a “bookworm” with a passion for children.
“I decided to run for state Senate, when ONLY FOUR of our current senators stood for human life this March,” Keith’s platform page notes. “We cannot claim to be in favor of life, yet vote for death.”
The page includes Facebook videos she recorded on the topic of education, abortion and vaccines.
“First of all, I do not believe that vaccines should ever be mandated for any vaccine, any people group, any age group,” Keith says. “Parents should always have the final say in their child’s health care.”
Keith’s primary policy position is that abortion is murder and should be criminalized, placing her among several abortion abolitionist candidates running for legislative office this year.
“I believe abortion is murder and should be treated as such in our state legislation,” Keith says online. “I will always vote for its immediate abolition without compromise.”
She states that she supports the Second Amendment and posted a photo of herself holding a pistol emblazoned with an American flag.
Terri Reimer (D)
Profession: Social studies teacher, former Marlow basketball coach
Platform: Reimer is listed on the Marlow Public Schools website as a social studies teacher, and a Duncan Banner article references that she is the former coach of the Marlow Lady Outlaws basketball team.
Reimer is a Purcell graduate, but she does not appear to have an official campaign website or Facebook page, as her listing on the Oklahoma Democratic Party’s candidate webpage contains no photo or web links.