About Last Night

Back in 2002 when my Senator was first elected to the State Senate, I thought it would be fun to invite some of his new colleagues over for a “senate” dinner. My former boss was notorious for gathering members from both parties together in his home for fireside chats in Washington DC and I saw how important that was in terms of relationship building. I figured that same concept might be helpful to my Senator as he entered a new political frontier at our State Capitol.

For this inaugural dinner, we decided to gather the newly elected freshman members and their spouses together in our home because this group, consisting of both Republicans and Democrats from all parts of the state, were entering the legislative session as rookies or rather a pledge class of sorts and relatively “new” to politics. Oh, and we decided to include the Governor and his wife because he had previously served in the State Senate and that would just be a cool thing to do.

There were a total of 18 in attendance that year and 16 of us waited over an hour for the newly elected Governor to arrive. Since we really didn’t know each other that well, imagine a living room full of adults, ranging in age from 26 to 64, differing political parties, from both urban and rural communities making small talk and sipping on a glass of wine (or two), waiting and waiting for the Governor. It’s safe to assume friendships were formed that evening while we anxiously dined around the table.

That next legislative session, we decided to have another Senate dinner because the first one was so much fun. But honestly, Cliff felt so fortunate that the State Capitol was located in our home town and we could entertain his colleagues. The close proximity which allowed him to return home each night, see the kids and sleep in his own bed forced many of his colleagues to crash in hotel rooms or shared apartments away from their families during those weeks the legislature was in session.

Our senate dinner was evolving into a casual, home cooked meal and a living room to hang out in, watch some Thunder basketball, play a game of pool or converse about some of the crazy happening at the Capitol. And, it was so nice to be able to do that. This pic was taken in roughly 2012 or 2013?

So, we continued to do this most every year that Cliff served in the Senate. Same menu, same living room, various groupings of members from across the state. The guest list was always a mix of Republicans and Democrats but we kept it members only (meaning no lobbyists or executive assistants or even spouses. Well, except me because I was in charge of cooking the dinner. But, we wanted it to be casual, comfortable and a place where they could unwind and solve all the state’s problems without the noise. The following pic is vintage 2011.

As term limits took effect, we thought it would be nice to continue the tradition but also to include some former members at our senate dinner. Especially nice because my Senator was now officially a “former” member. The atmosphere and menu remained the same, complete with a dose of lively conversation, laughter, late nights and story telling. (next pic is circa 2021)

SO, about last night… we held what could possibly be our 19th or 20th? annual Senate dinner amidst all the chaos currently happening at the Capitol and it was a complete and total blast! Old and new faces from across the state, laughing and carrying on… forming relationships that I am confident will be beneficial in some form or fashion for Oklahoma. I love being a fly on that wall and hearing some of the war stories from past legislative sessions.

And, there were definitely stories being told!