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Race to the right


State Sen. Clark Jolley faces a tough Republican primary challenge from minister Paul Blair.

Clifton Adcock June 20th, 2012

One of the most competitive state legislative contests this year involves Senate District 41, which covers most of Edmond and Arcadia and includes a portion of far northeast Oklahoma City. Republican incumbent Clark Jolley, first elected in 2004, faces challenger Paul Blair in the Tuesday primary.

Paul Blair

The GOP primary winner will square off against Independent Richard Prawdzienski in the November general election.


Paul Blair

Blair, 49, is an Edmond native who played football for Oklahoma State University and later in the NFL. He owns Blair Vending & Coffee in Edmond, is pastor of Fairview Baptist Church and was a driving force in organizing Reclaiming America for Christ and Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ.

Blair said he is most proud of his extensive community service throughout the years, as well as awards for his pastoral work.

He worked on Republican campaigns in 2010 and chose to run because he said he believes the vast Republican representation in the Legislature and in all statewide elected offices have not fulfilled expectations.

“We campaign as one thing, but those we’ve elected are career politicians,” Blair said, pointing to an increase in state spending over the past two years and the failure of any tax cuts this session.

He also accused Jolley and many elected officials in the state of being controlled by special interests and lobbyists.

“Lobbyists are driving the train — they are being represented. Who is representing ‘we the people’? Lobbyists have gotten control and that’s why nothing is happening.”

If elected, Blair said, he would introduce legislation to prevent bills from being killed in committee without a recorded vote, a measure he said would solve many problems with the legislative process.

“We need to have bills heard … so when it comes time for re-election, the people can look at the record easily,” Blair said. “Right now, they have a system of smoke and mirrors where they can always say they are for something, yet nothing ever really happens.”

He said the biggest issue facing the state is an increase in spending when temporary funding comes from the federal government.

Blair said he is conservative because he believes in small government, individual liberty and personal responsibility.

“We have a right to try, we have a right to buy, we have a right to sell, we have a right to fail in America,” Blair said. “We have liberty. And as we create a bigger government that tries to be a cure-all for everything, we will lose all of our liberty, and we will be under a tyrannical totalitarian state, and we’re moving that direction.”


Clark Jolley

Clark Jolley

Jolley, 41, is an Oklahoma Baptist University graduate who later earned a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. His Senate colleagues elected assistant floor leader during Jolley's second term.

He said he is most proud of his work to help enact education reform. In addition, Jolley pointed to his work in helping streamline state government by eliminating agencies that were believed to be ineffective, and his work in passing stiffer drunk-driving penalties.

“We’ve done a good job in moving in right direction, but there’s still more that needs to be done," he said. "I still have ideas I would like to pursue.”

If reelected, Jolley said, he would introduce legislation to pave the way for a merit-based teacher pay system.

“That’s something I would like to see us introduce, not just … for teachers, but more performance-based metrics and performance-based funding (in other areas of state government),” said Jolley.

Both improving education and reforming the state’s tax structure are the most important issues facing the state, he said.

“You have to have a high-quality workforce if you’re going to have companies want to locate here, but companies aren’t going to want to locate here if they’re going to get penalized for the privilege of doing business here in Oklahoma.”

Jolley said he should be reelected because he has been one of the state’s leading conservative forces in the Legislature. Attacks on his conservative credentials are unfounded, he said.

“It’s one of those things where if you disagree with those opponents on any issue, then I guess they would consider you to be a liberal," Jolley said.

"Take a look our conservative record of achievement in Oklahoma and you’ll see we’re conservative, we’re not governing like the liberals in Washington, D.C.”







 
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