Patrick B. McGuigan
Jason Reese, a Republican, has filed in the special election for Senate District 46, hoping to replace Minority Leader Andrew Rice in the MidTown and near Southside Oklahoma City area.
While candidate filing remains open until close of business tomorrow (Wednesday, December 7), analysts anticipate a race between Reese and state Rep. Al McAffrey, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the contest.
The race will take place in the new district lines, those fashioned based on the 2010 Census. The new district runs from N.W. 50th all the way to the near Southside of Oklahoma City. It retains historic residential areas, while adding a large proportion of working class and Latino/Hispanic voters.
Reese unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for Labor Commissioner last year, losing the nod to Mark Costello, who went on to defeat incumbent Commissioner Lloyd Fields.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Reese explained his reasons for seeking the job: “I want more people to enjoy the kind of opportunities that I have. Too often, I think the average middle class person that wants a better life for themselves and their family gets forgotten in public policy, and I want to be an advocate for them, regardless of background or party.”
Asked if it was realistic to believe a Republican can win in a district drawn to "fit" Andrew Rice, Reese reflected, “The residents of District 46 are an independent bunch, regardless of registration. From MidTown to the Southside, you find countless people who will tell you they vote for the person, not the party.
“If I have any one criticism of my own party, it is that we have been too comfortable as the rural-suburban party. Governing our state requires representing everyone. I believe that now is the time to reach out to urban constituencies and my candidacy will be focused on just that.”
Encouraged to list the top 3 issues of concern to voters, in his view, Reese said, “Education is #1, no question. In these tough times, short-term spending that only leads to more debt doesn's cut it. The best possible jobs program is a well-educated, highly-skilled populace.
“Similarly, we need to re-imagine our safety net programs, especially unemployment insurance to be retraining efforts rather than creators of dependence.
“Finally, tax reform that helps those who need it most is essential to growth and fairness.”
Republicans should nominate him, Reese believes, because, “I have passion and experience in dealing not only with public policy issues, but also the real-world economy of small business.”
Asked to make his case versus likely opponent McAffrey, who launched his campaign in October, Reese told CapitolBeatOK, “The key is a different set of policy principles. When the state legislature made real progress in opening up educational opportunities for special needs children, Representative McAffrey sided with the old guard interests. Time and again, when vital economic development proposals have come forward, the Representative has failed to provide leadership.
“I have met Rep. McAffrey a number of times and find him to be very pleasant and gracious, but we have real disagreements and I look forward to exploring them in this race.”
In conclusion, Reese said, “My wife, our children, and I love the core of Oklahoma City. It is my belief that we are on the cusp of a new urban era, where the old flight to the suburbs will reverse. In order to take advantage of that change, we must implement policies that expand educational and economic opportunity in urban areas.”
CapitolBeatOK has also submitted questions about the race to Rep. McAffrey, and will report his responses in detail.
Primaries for this and two other special elections are scheduled for February 14, with a general election on April 3. If primaries are not necessary, the February date will serve as the general election.