Shoe leather trumps money in Oklahoma City Council election

Ward 1 veteran Gary Marrs raised and spent tens of thousands of dollars to hold his place in city government, but lost to James Greiner, who spent far less.
by William Crum Published: May 15, 2013

A surge of money before the April 2 election failed to help former Ward 1 city Councilman Gary Marrs turn back James Greiner, who put his faith in meeting voters on their doorsteps.

In his first bid for public office, Greiner won with 57.1 percent of the vote on a chilly, rainy day when turnout barely reached 10 percent.

Marrs, the former Oklahoma City fire chief, lost after three terms on the council representing northwest Oklahoma City.

Campaign finance reports show Marrs spent $66,882, including $32,000 on TV ads, in the last two weeks of the campaign. He raised $36,000 in the homestretch and was endorsed by Mayor Mick Cornett.

Donations included $2,500 each from Juan Rico, undersecretary of the Chickasaw Nation, and Robert Howard, owner of Mercedes-Benz of Oklahoma City. Peter Delaney, president of OG&E, gave $2,000.

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce political action committee gave $5,000.

Greiner raised $1,500 in the last two weeks, most of it from 16 contributors who gave $50 or less, and said he spent $4,630; expenses were not itemized.

He ended the race with $2,237.

Greiner, 32, estimated he knocked on more than 2,500 doors, spreading a message of limited government that connected with a majority of the 2,100 voters who turned out.

Overall, Marrs said he spent $133,187 on his re-election bid and had $9,500 left at the end. Greiner, who was sworn in April 9, spent $11,338.

by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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