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Conservative contest


A Republican incumbent in northwestern Edmond faces a tea party challenger.

Peter Wright June 13th, 2012

Following a divisive session for Oklahoma Republicans, the founder of a prominent conservative club is challenging a four-term incumbent in the House District 39 primary on June 26.

Marian Cooksey

Since no Democrat filed to run in the district, covering most of northwest Edmond, the winner of the primary will take the seat.

Rep. Marian Cooksey has been in office since 2004, when she beat another incumbent Republican. Previously, she served as deputy chief of staff to then-Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin. Cooksey said she would be particularly interested in parsing the budget and making the Legislature more transparent with her fifth term.

Bob Dani founded the High Noon Club at the H&H Shooting Sports Complex about three years ago, where he moderates regular lunchtime forums, primarily with conservative politicians.

He said he’s running because Oklahoma has increased its spending too rapidly, and he views many incumbent Republicans as not standing up strongly enough for conservative issues.


Agree to disagree

Dani said a good depiction of the Republican rift is this: There are “tea party Republicans” and “chamber of commerce Republicans.” Although he considers himself part of the former, he doesn’t like the “tea party” label.

The split was clear at a recent High Noon Club meeting when Reps. Mike Reynolds and Paul Wesselhoft gave their takes on the just-ended session. Both claimed victory for “true conservatives” in voting down several bond issues and the income tax reduction, but felt Republican leaders prevented their own bills from being heard.

“The reason I’m a Republican is because I believe in that platform and what it stands for,” Dani said. “A lot of the people we talked about in there today, man, they’re my friends. I just disagree with them.”


Bob Dani

Unfinished business

Cooksey said some spending is necessary and fits with core government functions, specifically citing a conflict over funds for a new medical exam iner’s office. The acrimony in this session’s Legislature made it particularly challenging to accomplish projects with price tags, she said.

Given another term, she would like to find spots in the budget where spending can be reduced, and to find ways to make the legislative process more transparent for voters.

“Frankly,” Cooksey said, “there are a lot of things that are left that we need to take care of.”

 
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