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Race track

Two Republicans battle in a primary for the chance to claim the seat of outgoing Sen. Jim Reynolds.

Clifton Adcock August 3rd, 2011

Voters in Senate District 43 will get a chance this year to select a new state senator to replace outgoing Sen. Jim Reynolds, and the primary election featuring two Republican candidates is this Tuesday.

The district covers part of eastern Oklahoma County and goes into northern Cleveland County, encompassing parts of Oklahoma City, Del City all of Valley Brook and part of Moore.

Reynolds announced his resignation in May, effective July 1.

Reynolds, who has held the Senate seat since 2000 and was facing term limits, was elected as Cleveland County treasurer last November.

“I am thankful to God, my family and friends who believed in me when I chose to run for office 11 years ago, and to the people of Senate District 43 who gave me the opportunity to represent them,” Reynolds said in a media release.

The district also is facing redistricting this year and will move south in November to include all of McClain County, most of Stephens County and parts of Grady and Garvin counties.

Originally, two Democrats and three Republicans filed for the seat, but Republican candidate and current state House Rep. Paul Wesselhöft dropped out of the race early, as did Democrat Larry Foster.

Now, two Republicans and one Democrat are vying for the vacant seat.

Foster’s withdrawal allows Democratic candidate Kenneth Meador to bypass Tuesday’s primary and face one of the two remaining Republican candidates during the Oct. 11 general election.

Republican voters will decide between Greg Childers and Theresa Nelson during the primary.

For both candidates, it is their first time to run for office.

Childers, 41, formerly worked at Norman’s postal training center for 20 years and taught classes at the University of Oklahoma for the past eight years.

Nelson formally challenged Childers’ candidacy, stating that he was either a state employee for OU or federal employee, and therefore ineli gible

to run as it would violate the OU Personnel Handbook or the federal Hatch Act, respectively.

Childers denied he did anything wrong and was, in fact, a contract worker for OU, rather than an employee that fell under the class that could not run under university rules and also said he was not a federal employee. Childers later resigned after the challenge was filed and Nelson dropped it.

Childers said he resigned because it was difficult to both run a campaign and work full time.

Childers said he wanted to run for the seat to help bring a conservative viewpoint to the Legislature and because he felt it was his responsibility to run for office rather than just complain about the problems facing the state.

“There’s a conservative view that needs to be there that’s not right now,” he said. “After a lot of prayer between my family and I, we decided that this is probably the path that’s been put before us. Hopefully, I can go in and make a difference.”

Childers said the biggest issue facing the district is a lack of jobs.

“We need more business. We need to create more jobs,” he said. “South Oklahoma City at one time was one of the strongest areas out there. Now, you go up and down (Interstate) 240, and there’s lots of empty buildings, we’ve got a large mall — Crossroads Mall — that’s sitting empty.”

Childers said he did not have a specific piece of potential legislation to introduce, but that he supported measures affirming that life begins at conception, that bolster the Second Amendment, protect private property rights and encourage the federal government to enforce immigration laws.

Childers said the biggest issues facing the state were debt and a balanced budget. Although the state already must have a balanced budget by law, Childers said the state should not sacrifice one program to pay for another.

“We don’t need to borrow money from Peter to pay for Paul,” he said. “We don’t need to underfund something to make sure something else is funded.”

Nelson, 45, is a stay-at-home mother who formerly worked in public relations and marketing.

She decided to run after getting calls from people voicing concerns she shared about representation after Wesselhöft pulled out of the race.

“I had some concerns as well, as far as who would be representing us and was encouraged to enter the political arena,” Nelson said.

She said the biggest challenges in the district are a lack of resources and threats to benefits for residents, as well as economic growth.

“I think it’s important we protect conservative principles by making sure that our community has the resources to care for our senior citizens and children,” she said. “We need more resources, not just in our schools, but also in the community, and we need someone who will stand up to insurance companies and special interest groups and not have backing of those special interest groups that deny us those benefits.”

Nelson said she does not have special interest backing and, if elected, she hoped to introduce legislation addressing government waste and taking away state incentives from employers that send jobs overseas.

“They take advantage of tax dollars and jobs, but go out of the country,” she said. “We need the jobs here. We need economic growth and expansion.”

The biggest issues, she said, are education and job creation.

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