At official kickoff in Oklahoma City, Tom Guild details his challenge for Fifth District Congressional post

Tom Guild of Oklahoma City has formally announced he will seek the Democratic nod for the Fifth Congressional District post now held by James Lankford. Guild and his allies promise “a bold, progressive, grass roots campaign to win.”

Guild has been building towards the formal opening for the last two months, and pulled the trigger at the opening of a headquarters in north Oklahoma City, just off Interstate 44 near May Avenue. 

Now an emeritus professor from the University of Central Oklahoma, Guild promised to “preserve and protect Social Security and Medicare.” He told CapitolBeatOK the next three key issues in his estimation will be “public education, transparency in elections and campaign finance reform.”

While rarely mentioning the incumbent by name or party, Guild laid our a clear alternative vision to that of the conservative Republican incumbent. 

Guild contends America’s middle class and the working poor are finding it more and more difficult to achieve the American dream.He believes the federal government does some things well, including curbing foreign aggression, providing an essential safety net an health care for seniors, advancing and protecting civil rights for all, and assuring equality of opportunity. 

Guild chided the current U.S. House Republican majority not only for the substance of their views, but also for their manner and style: “Many times when government has disappointed us or there have been disagreements, we have seen on the Republican side a failure to model or live mature and respectful behavior.”

He assailed the debt ceiling confrontation of 2011, saying Republican intransigence and the threatened government shutdown fed a loss of confidence. He said the general public has also lost confidence in Congress itself.

Guild noted there is talk of a freeze on congressional salaries, but his view is even more critical: “It’s time not for a freeze, but a cut in their salaries.” He pledged full transparency in campaign finance, whether gifts are “$15 or $1,000.” 

Much of his speech before three dozen supporters and friends focused on his passionate support for public education. He reflected, “Public education is the way to get people into careers and opportunities that will last. We need to strengthen our public school systems and thereby strength our country.” In response to a question from an attendee, Guild said he opposes voucher systems. 

Guild praised the devotion of public school teachers who, when he grew up in Kansas, provided food and clothing. He shared fond memories of Carl and Frieda Guild, the couple who adopted him and taught him “How to love. How to grieve. How to embrace life.” Guild characterized his adoptive mother as “brilliant, loving and kind.”

Learning a passion for education from those adoptive parents eventually led to his career choice as a teacher himself, with an estimated 17,000 students over a 30-year career (including a stint at Oklahoma City University). 

Discussing the race with CapitolBeatOK, Guild predicted the incumbent will spent $1 million to $2 million, “most likely” something in the $1.5 million range. 

For his own effort, Guild thinks it is realistic to hope for $100,000 through the primary, including the “$12,000 or so” gathered to this point. He reflected, “If we only get outspent about 6-1, we can win.” The challenger thus pegged $250,000 an achievable budget all the way through the general election. 

Activists from across central Oklahoma joined Guild for the official lift-off. Having run unsuccessfully in 2010, Guild begins with a cadre of supportive Democratic leaders and activists, including former state Reps.Al Lindley and Wallace Collins (the state chairman) and Susan McCann. Aside from party activists, members of the Brennan Society and MoveOn.Org participated at the office opening. 

Guild believes government should “work for all the people.” Summarizing his objectives, Guild said he aims to bring to public office a vision for “competence, compassion and community-centered government.”