OR…….Alternative Headline: Why I voted for Kevin Stitt!
I had the opportunity to meet Kevin Stitt last spring. The story of how my family met Kevin is probably no more unique than the next persons, but it has been a pretty cool experience in politics from the sidelines and worth a post. Especially since my last post was nearly TWO YEARS AGO!!!
So here is how this happened…..My dad belongs to a group in Oklahoma City comprised of some CEO’s and businessmen who meet once a week to hear a speaker or learn about something of interest going on in the state. Each member is responsible for inviting a speaker and planning the meeting. When my dad’s turn rolled around in January of 2018, he asked me and the Senator if we had any ideas for a political figure since it was an election year. The Lt. Governor (who was running for Governor) and the Mayor of Oklahoma City (also running for Governor) had already addressed the group which narrowed the field of high profile choices somewhat.
In full honesty, I hadn’t much thought about the 2018 election cycle to be able to point him in the right direction, so I did a little research and stumbled upon a candidate in the Governor’s race who peaked my interest. There was a guy, originally from Norman, who went to college in Stillwater and was currently a successful businessman from Tulsa… an outsider to politics. The more I read about him, the more I liked and encouraged my dad to reach out to his campaign with an invitation to speak. So he did.
As you might imagine, not many people had heard of this candidate and most people in my dad’s business club had already hitched their wagon to someone else’s gubernatorial campaign. Stitt was not familiar with government or politics and like many Oklahomans, hadn’t even voted in recent elections much less been involved in the political process. I am sure that didn’t go over well with my dad’s business club….or maybe it did, because this Stitt guy from Tulsa was in the Governor’s race for ALL the right reasons.
Kevin came to speak at that early January meeting and then circled back to speak at another meet and greet my mom and dad enthusiastically hosted in their home.
He talked about making Oklahoma a top ten state in everything from education and infastructure to addressing our incredibly high incarceration rates. What made Kevin different from other candidates (who also talked about those very same topics), aside from not being a career politician, was his realization that the state needs to make some structural changes in the way we do business. (Can we get an Amen!!!)
From that point forward, the Senator and I were ALL IN – in terms of helping Kevin get elected. Our state was in desperate need of structural change and new ideas. Being slightly familiar with the political scene (said ever so smugly), we were convinced he had the right vision, business acumen and leaderhsip for moving our state forward. We also knew that more people needed to hear his message!! The Senator and I sent out letters to friends and extended friends, held two fundraising events in our home, waived signs by polling stations and kept both Kevin, Sarah and their six kids in our prayers. Politics is rough and this guy needed a full suit of armor and support.
Fast forward to today and the official inauguration of Oklahoma’s 28th Governor, Kevin Stitt. Incidentally, the sun is shining. Energy, optimism and hope are abundant. Oklahoma’s turnaround has commenced.
Roughly ten years ago, my Senator had an opportunity to attend a conference in Puerto Rico, and the kids and I tagged along because, well who wouldn’t want to go to Puerto Rico, right?
Coincidentally, I had met a lovely mom friend through American Mothers from Puerto Rico and she was kind enough to show us some of the beautiful sights including the Capitol building in San Juan… which the Senator loved.
And the famous fort…
The look on my baby’s face! Oh my goodness…
Pretending to be a pirate on the island did not get any better than this…but I digress!
There were lots of elected officials at this conference including our Governor. And, let me tell you, it makes for an interesting evening when you find yourself hanging out in the hotel hot tub with the Governor of your great state, who incidentally had just vetoed your Senator’s lawsuit reform bill the day before. It’s a good thing my Senator and the Governor had been in college together so the hot tub small talk wasn’t too awkward…or, maybe it was, but it took place amidst a beautiful setting and sunset so there’s that.
The beach at this resort was just as magnificent.
I have never seen such clear water that provided a window into the sea life swimming below the surface. In fact, the entire reason for reminiscing about this fabulous trip has to do with sea life and a senator…
You see, on this same trip, our family was playing on the beach one afternoon alongside many other conference attendees. We were like kids in a candy store because the beach was simply that gorgeous.
All of the sudden, we noticed a crowd gathering in the ocean and members of the hotel staff running onto the beach. Wondering what was happening and if someone needed help, my Senator headed over to the scene.
Evidently, the Governor of West Virginia had stepped on a black sea urchin and the group was attempting to clean his foot. According to the hotel staff, you had two options to remove the poisonous needle and sterilize the area – you could either pour urine on it or whiskey. Needless to say, the Governor chose whiskey and was letting everyone on the beach know the same! At the time, I remember thinking this guy was quite a character and down right hilarious! His name was Joe Manchin.
In case you don’t make a habit of following politics – Joe Manchin is now the senior Senator from West Virginia and earlier today, I caught a glimpse of him on TV talking about Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. His rational talking points and calm demeanor resembled those of a desperately needed statesman…let’s hope that ship hasn’t sailed.
This morning, I found myself wishing we had more elected officials like him….and a beach like this….
I spent the better part of my day today watching seven hours of Senate Confirmation Hearings for Cliff’s former colleague and friend, Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt. He has been tapped to to head the EPA, and in today’s polarized society, has come under some pretty heavy fire from the left.
We first met Scott and his sweet wife Marlyn, back in 2002 when Cliff was elected to the State Senate. There were only a handful of Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature at the time and Scott was a friendly face in that lion’s den.
An attorney by trade, Scott specialized in Constitutional Law which made it especially fun to watch him debate on the Senate floor. He was also a baseball player in college and at some point, instituted a friendly baseball game between the members of the House and Senate. The game itself was usually held in the spring at the Bricktown Ballpark and very competitive in nature. It was fun for family and friends too. Below is a photo from one of the games with Trump’s nominee for EPA in the middle.
Looks like my baby was hanging out with her daddy down in the dugout too….sigh.
Having known Scott since 2002, it’s fair to describe him as extremely sharp, capable and very determined. In 1998, he ran a successful race against a sitting State Senator which is no easy feat. Two years later, he ran for Congress finishing third in a heated Republican primary and then ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor six years later. It wasn’t until 2010, when Scott ran for Attorney General that he would pick up a significant statewide win. Significant, because if he had won that Lieutenant Governor’s race or the Congressional seat before that, he might not have been in a position to challenge the EPA as he did in his role as Oklahoma Attorney General… which is what ultimately landed him in the hot seat today as Trump’s nominee for head of the EPA! God certainly works in mysterious ways!
My Senator and I knew Scott would hold his own during what would be seven grueling hours of confirmation hearings and we watched almost every minute. Thank goodness for being able to live stream CSPAN-2! Best of luck to you Senator! We’re certainly proud of all you’ve accomplished and are cheering you on from our seat on the sidelines!
I spent some time this morning watching the Senate confirmation hearings for Rex Tillerson, Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of State, and it took me down a path to my past.
Sitting at the front table with Tillerson was Sam Nunn, former U.S. Senator (D-GA), and Bob Gates, former Secretary of Defense, head of the CIA and probably a lot of other National Intelligence entities I neglect to mention.
My knowledge of both those gentlemen (Nunn and Gates) dates back to the early 1990s when I was a research assistant on the Senate Intelligence Committee. I was a young, naive and politically passionate twenty something year old out to save the world. Senator Nunn was a member of the Intelligence Committee and served as Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was also a very close friend of my boss, David Boren,(D-OK), Chairman of the Intelligence Committee. They worked closely together as did their staff.
Let me just say, I have the utmost respect for Senator Nunn. Total class act. His wise words before the committee this morning reminded me of how much I loved working on that secret committee years ago. He always asked the best questions in the closed hearings of the Intelligence Committee, and with a gracious demeanor and subtle southern accent to boot.
I learned so very much about the world from these people, but also about how Washington and politics worked. Sure, there was political posturing and partisanship up on the Hill-even in those days. But when it came to the nation’s safety and security, they worked together to find the common ground.
My memories of Bob Gates are a little more specific. At the time, Gates was being confirmed by the Senate Intelligence Committee to head the CIA, and many conjured that his confirmation was going to be controversial. The Senate was controlled by the Democrats and Gates was a Republican – nominated by a Republican President (George H.W. Bush). You can imagine there would be hearings, not just to confirm, but to question his qualifications.
My boss, along with Senator Nunn, seemed to want no part in politicizing the process and both were resolute in their belief that Gates was more than qualified for the job, maybe even the best person for the job. As a young and admittedly partisan Senate staffer, I was skeptical.
I attended those hearings, taking notes, doing my job and watching those two men skillfully and briliantly navigate such an important national security confirmation process. I think my parents even have a tape somewhere in their basement of the CNN broadcast that showed me sitting behind the members in my role as a staffer. I should really try to find that sometime just for fun or, to show my children what a VHS tape looks like.
What I particularly remember was the loyalty I felt toward my boss, David Boren. He came under some fire for his desire to confirm Bob Gates for no other reason than they were on opposite sides of the political aisle. His most notable opposition came from the head of the House Intelligence Committee, Dave McCurdy, a fellow Democrat also from Oklahoma. In an attempt to derail the process, McCurdy wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post questioning Boren and his support of Gates. The inflammatory piece landed the day of the hearings.
Boren appeared to pay minimal attention, if any, to this back stabbing by a fellow Oklahoman and proceeded to chair the hearing with his concise and skilled leadership. I was so proud to be a member on his staff that day – never mind the life lessons I learned throughout the process.
Fast forward to 2014, I had a unique opportunity to meet Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, the same Corker who has been presiding over the Tillerson hearings today as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
I was in town for a conference with American Mothers, and went to the Hill to have a photo op with the National Mother of the Year, (pictured in white below) who happened to be from Corker’s home state.
He is an impressive individual and possesses a great knowledge of world affairs. He also has some cool art in his Senate office.
We seized an opportunity to chat with him about his efforts and legislation to combat human trafficking, an area he is very engaged in, and how our organization has been involved with same. If you care about this issue – he’s your guy!
So, naturally when I turned on the TV this morning and saw all three of these men in one room talking about national security… it kind of felt like old home week on Hill. “Old” being the key word here. 🙂
Along with what appeared to be a flood of Americans, I too, took to Twitter last night debating the merits (or lack thereof) for Meryl Streep’s manic diatribe about the 2016 Election and Donald Trump.
I have been reluctant to share my politics on social media sites like Instagram, Snapchat or Facebook because that’s my personal space where I connect with “my friends.” The people who I have known for decades and such. They pretty much already know my political leanings and probably don’t care either way what I think on this issue or that. Honestly, who doesn’t prefer to keep Facebook full of happy vacation photos, birthdays, weddings and a safe space to brag about your kids? I know I do!
But, Twitter… my Twitter….Wow, what a brave new world! I have made some new friends (or is it followers?) on Twitter this past year. First, let me say that Twitter is where I get most of my news. I follow lots of reporters, journalists, politicians, news outlets etc. on my tweeter feed. During the course of the 2016 election season, I met up with some trolls from the left and right on this forum. I sat up in the rafters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and followed these same journalists and main stream media elites on Twitter to compare what was being said in the convention hall versus what was being reported on their Twitter accounts. You wanna talk about media bias? Oh my goodness. I could have compared and contrasted that little experiment for days and days. Donald Trump’s use of Twitter also intrigues me and I have yet to determine whether I think it is inappropriate or just plain brilliant… but I digress.
I am like a bull in a china shop getting to my twitter feed each morning. Just ask my Senator…I can’t wait to read all the random and wonderful and utterly outrageous even crazy on there in the wee hours of the morning. I follow a totally bizarre mix of people, places and things and I love every second of it. It is fair to say I am obsessed. One of my New Year’s Resolutions should have been a month in time out from Twitter, but I’m gonna save that one for another (less exciting) year.
About last night… The Golden Globes. I tuned in to watch Viola Davis and Meryl Streep. Two of the best.
I grew up idolizing Meryl Streep and her incredible talent to transform herself into another human being. I think she is a brilliant actress. I have seen all of her films at least once….I think? I am a total drama geek.
But, can someone please tell me when Hollywood decided it was good to get all political? I know Meryl’s rant was not the first at an award show, nor will it be the last lecture to the American public from the actor’s bully pulpit (emphasis on the word bully) of what life should be like and how people should think, feel and behave.
But, I’m curious if these “actors” have ever once taken into consideration the hypocrisy in all of this. It reminds me of this meme/moment during the 2016 election. Thank you Twitter.
The blatant mockery of anyone who doesn’t think like them only shows a general disdain and intolerance for half of their audience base. It also demonstrates a bigoted blindness to the reality of your average guy living outside of those gilded and gated Hollywood communities, many of whom helped elect the next President of the United States my girl Meryl was lamenting. One would assume this ‘group think’ only hinders an actors ability to create and share a variety of life stories…or are they now only portraying life as they think it should be? Life as they know it? Lecturing the audience on their personal values because they are…..…..actors?
I read an interview recently with the (very cute) actor Mark Wahlberg, about his new movie, Patriot’s Day, where he addressed this very topic.
Here is a quote from that interview as reported on the Washington Times blog:
“A lot of celebrities did, do, and shouldn’t…..You know, it just goes to show you that people aren’t listening to that anyway. They might buy your CD or watch your movie, but you don’t put food on their table. You don’t pay their bills. A lot of Hollywood is living in a bubble. They’re pretty out of touch with the common person, the everyday guy out there providing for their family.”
I think he is spot on. I bet his new movie will be be a huge success too. Can’t wait to watch.
Wonder how that Florence Foster Jenkins movie with Meryl Streep is fairing at the box office…because at some point, this discussion becomes all about ratings and revenue!
I had a unique opportunity to be up close and personal with one of the candidates for POTUS this past weekend. Well, not really “up close and personal,” but in the same room if that counts.
Okay, maybe it was up close and personal but it was also a packed house, full of people.
Those cute collegians with the big phones were super skilled on social media and loving the backdrop of Trump with the King of College football in Oklahoma, Barry Switzer.
Here was my lame attempt at same….clearly, I have a lot to learn.
Before the candidate arrived, we ran into some fun friends of ours from all sides of the political aisle.
I should have tweeted this pic as a political bag of Skittles (haha) because we represent a wide variety of political color, commentary and three different political parties.
But not as much color as was seen across the street.
I snapped a quick pic of the snack sized bag of protestors who set up shop across from the event. You know I couldn’t wait to photograph them.
I kept thinking… I was in a college town and this is all you’ve got?
The guy holding the Trump Lies poster wins best sign award. I am positive he was cloaked in a hybrid Bernie T-Shirt considering the irony of that statement and hope he finds a more lucrative career with ESPN Gameday.
Seriously, the mom in me would have loved to have walked across the street and talked with these kids just to see where they were coming from and why they took time out from the massive tailgating and pre-gaming taking place to hold up some signs and protest. However, at this point I was already tagged as a hostile, so I stuck with our plan and headed into the event.
In my next life, I am going to be a journalist…just saying.
There is nothing quite like getting to spend time with your oldest and dearest friends. The kind of friends you have known forever, literally since birth, but don’t necessarily get to see as much as you’d like in person because you live a couple hundred miles apart….or, one of them is kinda famous.
Thank goodness for modern technology and social media that keep us all connected, but nothing can take the place of special face to face friend time. Even if it was in front of a camera….
Yep. Last week, I filmed a little “Friendsgiving” episode for The Pioneer Woman’s show on the Food Network, up on her ranch. I’m not sure how much filming took place, because the three of us just laughed, talked and reminisced about old stories while the cameras were rolling. (I am sure the crew was thoroughly entertained!)
The three of us have all known and loved each other since birth and that is just what happens when we get together. I’m sure our parents (who have also known each other forever) are so proud!
I love this pic of Beccus and Ree. I think the crew might have been a little frustrated with us…or not. Or, maybe they just needed a little of the champagne cocktail…..
This was my dish, a roasted Kale-Brussel Sprout salad. It was delish!
We also had some pretty hors douvres and a champagne cocktail that was very festive and perfect for a holiday gathering.
Ree handed me that loaded cracker (pictured above) which I so glamorously fumbled with in front of the cameras….so, I did what any polite girl would do and hid it behind the cutting board. Shhh don’t tell. Totally akward trying to talk and laugh among friends with goat cheese and paprika stuck in your teeth….just saying!
We also dropped in on the warehouse where all the merchandise is being stored until it can move into the Merc. Such an exciting time for this town and my BFF.
Then we caught up with Ree, filmed the episode, shared lots of laughs and hugs, and went our separate ways.
This week, the Senator and I did a really fun thing. We got together with my parents and hosted a little get together for a dear friend of ours, Sean Burrage, who is the President of a University in the Southeastern part of our state.
Sean is a special friend who not only served in the State Senate with my Senator, but he also worked for the current President of the University of Oklahoma, David Boren, way way back when Boren was a United States Senator. I also happened to be working for Boren in Washington DC , so I claim to have known Sean longer, haha. Small world.
Anyway…Sean and my Senator were not just colleagues at the Capitol, but good friends, and even though they were on opposite sides of the political aisle, they worked together to make positive things happen for the people of our state. Current elected officials could REALLY take a lesson from those two… just saying.
But, I digress. Back to our special event. We thought it would be cool to host a gathering for the alumni of Southeastern Oklahoma State who happen to live in our neck of the woods and use the opprtunity as a fundraiser for a scholarship in the name of my Great Grandfather, Henry G. Bennett, who just happened to be the President of this same University a very long time ago. ( Pardon the major run on sentence amidst a post about Higher Education!)
I always knew my Great Grandfather was the President of SEOSU, but his real claim to fame was being President of Oklahoma State University and working with President Harry Truman as an Assistant Secretary of State for his Point Four Program. So, for me, this was a fun opportunity to see old friends, blend a connection of sorts and learn a little bit more about Southeastern Oklahoma State.
Evidently, my great grandaddy planted a lot of magnolias on the campus. I have always loved magnolias. They are so hardy and strong…at least the ones in my yard! But, he planted over 1,000 magnolias there…so, they named the Library after him. I love libraries.
I think he loved libraries as much as he loved magnolias because his philosophy was that the Library should be at the center of campus and provide a gathering place for students. Such an educator! Maybe that is why I have always loved libraries too, who knows!
He continued the library and magnolia tradition when he took over the helm at Oklahoma State University – except that magnolias didn’t really grow in them there parts. Determined to make it work, my great grandaddy reminded them that OSU was an agricultural / mechanical school and they needed to go figure it out. So, they did. They also re-routed a road which ran thru the middle of campus in order for the Library to be the center of attention. Pretty dang cool.
Back to the event for our good friend Sean. It was special. Not only is he a fabulous President of this University bringing his passion for education and kids to the job with him everyday, but I am hopeful that he, like my grandad, will someday take the reigns of another major University in our State…. but, this one would begin with an O and end with a U!
It is the second day of the Democratic National Convention and man, do they know how to put on a good show. Between the Bernie protests, a star studded line-up with celebrities and professional politicians, the convention chair got the boot and Bernie was booed by his own supporters for suggesting they throw their hat behind the nominee. I’m thinking what’s not to love, right?
The stage in the arena, while all consuming, held not one American flag but was as blue and bland as Monica Lewinsky’s dress. Just blame it on the Russians.
Oh, lest us not forget the Russians and the DNC email leaks as fingers point to them as responsible for much of the chaos. Never mind, the content in those emails exposed some serious corruption at the DNC, a rigged system and collusion with the media. Who needs fact when you can sell fiction. I would be remiss if I didn’t claim anticipation for when Wikileaks releases the 33,000 missing emails from Hillary’s personal server…because you know they have ’em. It’s just a matter of time.
You always hear about the fashion at political conventions and from what I saw this week, it can be divided into three categories. The good, the bad and the bling…
The good could be a reference to the state delegation gear.
The Texas delegation was all suited up in matching shirts and hats.
Donated to their delegation by Stetson, they waived the hats continually from their seats on the convention floor. I think it was their way of showing applause, or maybe it was just hot down there, or maybe they were just thinking big hair needed big hats ha ha!
But they did stand out in the crowd!
I had to snap this pic of the Hawaii delegation… They had matching shirts and dresses complete with flowers in their hair and lays around their necks. Adorable!
If you look closely, you can see my Senator on the left is perplexed and not sure who I am photographing since I am…well, taking this of their back side, probably not the most flattering angle just saying.
And, a Montana delegate….from the back side.
I think I have an issue with taking people’s pictures….
But, the Senator doesn’t. Best example of bling.
He really isn’t shy when it comes to photo ops.
But, Oklahoma really did look sharp in their matching navy blue blazers. On this particular night, the navy blue blazers were worn with red shirts.
Twinning…..note the clear plastic bags.
A pic of the flag suit dudes..from the back side.
These guys were talking to the media who could be distinguished not only by their gold colored badges but also with the backpacks they were allowed to bring into the arena. Hence my reference above to the clear plastic bags regular folks were forced to carry for security purposes. Well, not forced. But, you get my drift.
Here’s a pic from my Senator’s camera. Clearly, he’s not afraid to ask for a photo.
And this hat…The lady to the left saw me sneaking a pic. She thought the hat was funny too.
One more from the back side haha…but, cute elephant skirts none the less.
Looks like the Senator snagged a better version…go figure.
Can’t wait to watch the DNC this week to see if all the bling is a universal convention theme or a one-sided phenomena.
Having stayed up most of the night before reveling with our fellow conventioneers, the long schlog home from Cleveland, was just that. Looong.
I had big plans to grab a nap for the first leg of our very full Southwest flight, and plopped down in a middle seat so Cliff could have the coveted aisle. Must have been feeling the love in my sleep deprived state. Ha. Ha.
Sitting by the window on our row was a man who seemed harmless enough and rather preoccupied with his phone, so I settled in for my nap….or, so I thought.
This nice gentleman to my right became engaged in a continual convo with the lady seated behind me for what seemed like an eternity! Even though I had my earplugs in with some Big Daddy Weave blaring, the man with the personality was rocking my world.
I couldn’t help but overhear their entire conversation. It was about politics and the RNC and all I could think of was this guy had an excessive amount of post convention energy or an adult case of ADD. That said, when the pilot came on to alert us about some possible weather and turbulence, my seat mate pulls up his navigator app and radar app and kindly explained to me how those tools work.
Based on his knowledge of both, I asked him if he was a pilot, because that was going to make me feel better about the dangerously dark clouds outside the window. He was not, but his command of the subject matter could have fooled me anyway.
At this point, my Senator decided it was time to wake up, sensing some competition for Mayor of Flight 2357, and joined our conversation.
Come to find out, both were Rubio delegates from their respective states at the convention.
Come to find out, he was from Arkansas and was flying on to Little Rock.
Come to find out, he is Tim Griffin, the Lt. Governor of Arkansas…the same Lt. Governor of Arkansas who I wrote about here. Oh my goodness! Can I not get a break!
Immediately, I began to feel a strange remorse for all the evil I had wished upon him previously! Who needs sleep after an all-nighter, when you can chat with a rising political star from a neighboring state, right?
At this point, our plane had landed and we were walking off with our seat mates, who had now joined up with Asa Hutchinson, the Governor of Arkansas (also on our flight). Nice people. Small world.
I am sure there is a moral to this story somewhere, but I am still recovering from our incredible, once in a lifetime experience in Cleveland this past week.
Sharing a few pics from our very late night in Cleveland. Not sure where they came from because my phone died about half way through Ivanka Trump’s speech!
Don’t ask about the banner…it was liberated before it hit the dumpster.
Lots of Okie friends having fun on the plaza post convention!!!
Mayor of the After Party!
I haven’t pulled an all nighter since college and kids and now I know why. Paying a big price for all that post convention fun and from my view at the airport, so is everyone else.
More from the last night of convention after a few hours of sleep…but, man what a night!