Thursday, September 10, 2015

The 1982 OKGOP Split

  The Brogdon resignation has just taken effect. 

  We, in the OKGOP, are in an interim leadership phase and awaiting a confirmation that the proposed October 10th meeting is still set. Then we will hopefully have a new state chairman
   In some unrelated research, today, I uncovered some interesting OKGOP history (thanks in part to a tip from Steve Byas of the Oklahoma Constitution Newspaper). If you think these past few months of strife in the state headquarters looks petty and juvenile, you're probably going to be surprised at the really big party battle which dragged on for months, following the 1981 state convention.
  Tulsan, Mike Freeman, had been relatively unknown outside of his local metro area, but he narrowly defeated the Oklahoma County Chair, Nancy Apgar for the state chairmanship. Mike had managed his father's unsuccessful congressional campaign against incumbent, Jim Jones.
  It seems Vice Chair, Mary H. Swanson, of Oklahoma City (who had just ascended to the vice chairmanship in Nov. when Glenda Mattoon resigned), had continual disputes with Freeman and those disputes became very public and vicious. This led to a further drop in fundraising activities and donations.
  The Oklahoma Republicans, in 1981; sought to remedy the corrupt gerrymandering of the Democrat party and that initiative petition proved to be a huge expense. The party was somewhere between $65-85K, in debt.

A U.S. Senator Attempts Mediation

  A young new U.S. Senator, Don Nickles; did his best to mediate & resolve the matter but he could not even get the chair & vice chair to meet in his OKC office, together; on Friday, Jan. 29th, 1982.
 Earlier in the month, on January 13th, 1982; Freeman submitted a resignation with a stated 30-day notice. And he set the date for a State Committee meeting to be held Feb. 13th, in Enid. (the date after his resignation would take effect).
But Swanson was not content to wait the required 30 days, so she called a State Committee meeting for Saturday, January 30th, 1982; in Oklahoma City.

OKGOP Defies A Court Injunction

 So five county chairmen sought & received a court injunction from a Logan County District Judge, banning anyone from conducting an official State Committee meeting on January 30th.  Swanson defied that court order, under the advisement of former OKGOP legal counsel ( & now-infamous defense attorney), Stephen Jones, of Enid.
  The  State Committee supposedly had a quorum and voted Nancy Apgar the next State Chairman. Swanson claimed the meeting could not wait because;
"Nothing good can come from waiting two weeks, three weeks or four weeks." ~ Mary Swanson
"People are geared up. They want to get it over with. It has to go on," she said; "Nothing good can come from waiting two weeks, three weeks or four weeks."
 On Monday, Feb. 1st, the newspapers announced that the State Committee did defy the court and had a meeting in Oklahoma City. Nancy Apgar was selected to be the OKGOP Chairman. Even though the selection was clearly held in violation of the OKGOP Rules and a district court judge's direct injunction.
Read more about this historical event at the Oklahoman:
part 1
part 2

A 1989 Repeat

 I have a feeling there are some resident historians who can add more insight, by commenting on this post.  There was to be yet another resignation in the chairmanship 7 years later. That's when Sen. Nickles' aide, Clinton Key took over for Mike Morris. I'll let you read about that, here.
David Van Risseghem

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