Oklahoma Republicans went Saturday with the contender who has a proven track record of raising money for the state party and being involved with successful campaigns over one who is better known for opposing illegal immigration, the Affordable Care Act and the United Nations Agenda 21 sustainable development action plan.
About 61.3 percent of the votes cast for chairman by the 1,222 delegates attending the Oklahoma Republican State Convention went to Dave Weston, who works for an investment advisory firm. Amanda Teegarden, co-founder and executive director of the nonprofit Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise, Inc, won 38.7 percent of the votes cast.
Weston, of Lexington, will succeed Matt Pinnell, who has served the past three years as chairman.
Pinnell, of Tulsa, was named earlier this month to be state party director of the Republican National Committee. In the new position, he will be the chief liaison between state party organizations and the national party.
Saturday's convention, at the Magnuson Hotel and Meridian Convention Center, 737 S Meridian Ave., was much smoother than last year's meeting, where fights broke out over rules and a physical altercation occurred between opposing delegates. Upset that state party leaders used rules unfairly to block their slate of delegates, backers of GOP presidential contender Ron Paul gathered outside in the parking lot after last year's convention. They elected their delegates and fought unsuccessfully all the way to the national convention to get them seated.
Teegarden, of Tulsa, received applause and cheers from the crowd when she said she was disappointed state lawmakers this year didn't hear all bills that were filed, especially measures opposing Agenda 21 and attempting to nullify the Affordable Care Act, which was backed by President Barack Obama and is called Obamacare by opponents.
“There's been a disconnect,” Teegarden said. “The bills from the people are not being heard.”
Weston said he would work to unify the state Republican Party, which has posted steady gains in voter registration numbers during the past 50 years. But several factions have developed in the state party over the past couple of years, which has caused some rifts to develop.
“We've got to pull people together,” Weston said. “We've got to begin to move forward because our adversary is not each other — it's Barack Obama.”
About the chairman
Weston was backed by members of the state GOP with different viewpoints who at times disagree, such as state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, who previously served as chairman of the state Republican Party, and Charlie Meadows, chairman of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.
Weston served as finance director for the state Republican Party from 2005 until 2006. He was involved in establishing campaign management software, developing strategies for grassroots outreach and fundraising, as well as managing campaign data for two congressional candidates who pulled off upsets: U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, in 2010 and U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, in 2012.
Sara Jo Odom, of Edmond, was elected vice chairman, over two other candidates, Richard Engle, of rural Mustang, and Denise Crosswhite Hager, of Yukon.
While Republicans were calmer this year, Kaye Beach, a delegate from Norman, drew a lot of attention with her sign she brought on the convention floor. It read “FALLINDRONES” and had a model of a drone on top.
The sign was a dig at Gov. Mary Fallin, whose concerns helped ground legislation this year that would have placed restrictions on drones.
The governor said the measure could have jeopardized Oklahoma's application with the Federal Aviation Administration to serve as an unmanned aerial systems test site.
Pinnell was praised for GOP gains in state, legislative and federal posts that occurred during his tenure. Republicans now hold every statewide elected office, have their biggest majorities in both the state Senate and state House of Representatives and make up the entire state's congressional delegation. It's the first time in state history Republicans control the Legislature, occupy each statewide office and each of the U.S. Senate and House seats.
“I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish together,” Pinnell told the delegates on Saturday.
“I will put our record up against anybody's in the country.”