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Four face off in Oklahoma Senate District 15 primary race

BY MEGAN ROLLAND Published: June 15, 2012

Four Republicans are looking to replace the term-limited, 12-year incumbent Sen. Jonathan Nichols in an all-Norman race for Senate District 15.

The men — two doctors, a pharmacist and an insurance company owner — have met in many debates. All say they are strong candidates and that it's been a mostly positive race for the district that includes parts of Cleveland and Pottawatomie counties.

The winner will face Claudia Griffith, a Democrat and registered nurse, also of Norman, in the November general election.

Jack Beller

Jack Beller, 66, is an orthopedic surgeon, who said his experience working with the Legislature for the past 10 years, as president and later legislative liaison for the Oklahoma State Medical Association, sets him apart from his opponents.

“I have learned the process of legislation,” Beller said. “Learned how to read the bills, learned how to get them managed through the Legislature and get them passed.”

Beller said that he would be able to influence medical bills as the only medical doctor in the Senate. He also touts his experience as a small-business owner.

“I know what over-regulation and over-taxation does to small business in terms of preventing them from growing and prospering,” Beller said. “We are going to need those jobs to get out of this recession.”

He said he supports a reduction of the personal income tax but only after the state takes care of key services: “education, roads and bridges, public safety and being a safety net to those who through no fault of their own need help.”

“Our government is doing a lot more things other than the basic core obligations,” Beller said.

He's a fifth-generation Oklahoman who believes in the second amendment, that marriage is the union between one woman and one man, that life begins at conception and that abortion should be done only to save the life of the mother in the case of rape or incest.

Harold Haralson

Harold Haralson, 57, a physician in a private practice, said he was drawn to run by concern about the welfare and future of our children and grandchildren.

“Particularly for me, thinking back through the years and the amount of freedoms that we have lost ... the amount of regulations that our legislatures continue to pass on citizens as well as business continues to increase and I would like to reverse that trend,” Haralson said.

What sets him apart from the three other conservative candidates, he said, is his prior political positions that include mayor of Norman and city council member in Noble.

“I think that you will find we're pretty similar based on debates that we've had,” Haralson said. “I'm the only one that has political experience. It has allowed me to interact with citizens in the past. I'm familiar with how citizens feel and the issues they have. I understand how to work with other elected officials.”

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