(Update: On Tuesday, June 28, Neil Hays and Carlisa Rogers advanced to the GOP primary runoff, which will occur on Aug. 23.)
With House District 13 Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) leaving his seat to enter a packed contest for Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District, four Republicans are running to take his place in the Legislature.
One thing all four candidates have in common is concern with the curriculum taught in Oklahoma schools. On their websites, each one mentions opposing “liberal indoctrination” or “leftist ideologies” being taught to kids.
The winner of the primary will face Jim Haley, the lone Democrat running, in November. If no single candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote on June 28, the top two finishers will go head to head in a runoff on Aug. 23.
House District 13 contains the northeastern corner of McIntosh County and central Muskogee County, including the city of Muskogee.
The following overview of the Republican candidates is derived from publicly available information and presented in alphabetical order. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, and early voting will run June 23-25.
Background: Hays is originally from Muskogee, where he taught math and history and coached basketball at Hilldale High School. He then left education to open a Farmers Insurance agency in Okmulgee, which he has operated for nearly five years. His firm was one of the top five Farmers agencies for sales in Oklahoma in 2021. He has an MBA from Northeastern Oklahoma State University, and he also played baseball in college.
Platform: According to his website, Hays’ main priority is to “defend Oklahoma’s conservative values” from President Joe Biden’s policies, although he does not list any official presidential policies with which he specifically disagrees. He opposes “liberal indoctrination,” which he considers to include critical race theory, in state curriculum and opposes trans students participating in school sports opposite their birth gender. He aims to reduce taxes and government spending. Hays has an “AQ” rating from the NRA, signifying anti-gun-control stances on the NRA’s self-reported candidate questionnaire.
Hays has been endorsed by the State Chamber Political Action Committee.
Background: Since 2008, Jackson has been a professor at Northeastern State University, where he teaches courses in accounting and economics. He previously worked for the CIA in Washington, D.C. before returning to Muskogee County, where he was raised. He earned a Ph.D in economics from Oklahoma State University in 2005. He also has a master’s in mathematics from OU and a bachelor’s in chemistry and mathematics from Northeastern.
Jackson is a fifth-generation Oklahoman. On his Facebook page in 2017, he wrote that his great-great-grandfather was a Cherokee orphan who survived forced relocation to Indian Territory on the Trail of Tears before settling in what is now the town of Gore.
Platform: In 2021, Jackson made a post on his personal Facebook page comparing the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol to the Reichstag fire, suggesting that Democrats might use the riots to justify suspending civil liberties as the Nazi Party did. Jackson advocates for lowering taxes and government spending and criticized the Legislature’s $9.84 billion budget for the next fiscal year.
On his website, Jackson says he believes in the Invisible Hand, the laissez-faire concept that individual economic self-interest ensures public good. If elected, Jackson says he will “safeguard First Amendment rights,” specifically because he believes “there is hope for our country only so long as Christian Americans are willing to exercise their right to assemble and are free to express their religious convictions to the broader public.” Jackson also describes himself as pro-life and pro-gun.
Background: Rogers is a fourth-generation Oklahoman who has lived in Muskogee County all her life. She currently homeschools her three children. She previously worked as a nursing home administrator at a care facility her husband owns and taught public school for three years. In November 2020, she and her husband traveled to Las Vegas to volunteer for the Election Integrity Project, a nonprofit that claimed to investigate voter fraud in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election.
Platform: In a candidate questionnaire for the Wagoner County GOP, Rogers said she is “in favor of responsible spending and lowering taxes, but they are secondary to the culture war.” She is a self-described “Trump Republican,” and her primary concern is protecting “liberties, faith, and tradition for our children.” Rogers advocates for parents having more say in and review over public school curriculum to prevent leftist ideology from being taught. She states she is concerned that “colleges are turning out activists instead of professionals.” She also claims that there should not be any kind of vaccine requirements to attend school or secure a job. Rogers says that, when evaluating legislation, her first consideration would be whether or not it is biblically sound.
Background: White, who is a citizen of the Pawnee Nation, was born just outside of Area 51 in Roswell, New Mexico, but moved to Oklahoma as a child. He studied petroleum engineering at the University of Oklahoma but turned to a career in sales and management after an economic downturn. He has worked for Love Bottling Company since the early 2000s, and he is a board member of the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce. White also pursues silver smithing and beadwork, and, in his spare time, he assists with his brother’s jewelry business.
Platform: According to his website, White intends to combat the effects of inflation by removing “job-killing regulations,” promoting Oklahoma-based businesses — particularly in the oil and gas industry — and recruiting manufacturing companies to open new factories in the state. White wishes to increase the budgets of police and fire departments. White also advocates for a “multi-dimensional educational system,” with increased parental oversight and a “pushback on liberal indoctrination,” while also creating more opportunities for students to learn trades as an alternative to college. White’s website also states that he aims to lessen the state’s dependency on the federal government, although he does not specify how.
White has also been endorsed by the State Chamber Political Action Committee.