Carol Hefner plans to ‘show up’ for the Todd Lamb Senate vacancy

By Patrick B. McGuigan

Published: 10-Nov-2010

Carol Hefner of Edmond is likely to be deemed “front-runner” in the anticipated election to replace state Sen. Todd Lamb, the current state Senate floor leader who was elected lieutenant governor on Tuesday, November 2.

She formally announced her candidacy last week.

In a recent interview with CapitolBeatOK, Hefner said, “When it comes to politics, I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.” A passionate multi-issue conservative, she seems to fit the mood of the Oklahoma electorate. She contends: “I can guarantee I’ll make most of the people happy most of the time in my district.”

Hefner is the wife of Robert Hefner IV, a successful businessman. Months ago, after deliberating on the expected victory for Lamb as he sought the state’s number two political post, Hefner began quietly organizing. Then, some weeks ago, she filed necessary paperwork with the Ethics Commission and began raising money and planning for a race most observers believe will be settled in the Republican primary.

She recounted: “My feet have been set upon a course for quite awhile. This whole thing has a great feel about it. I know it’s the right thing.”

On the “retail” side of the political equation, Hefner asserts, “It’s been a joyful work for four months. Door-to-door has been beautiful, very positive. … As I go door-to-door I am often invited into people’s homes and that is so special.”

Hefner is frequently asked why she would tackle the world of politics when she has such a good life without it. She replied: “I’ve traveled the world and visited magnificent landmarks, and eaten at premiere restaurants. … For all that, I can tell you that Oklahoma, this place, is a jewel.

“This is business, it is serious. People sense they can trust me. I’m a unifier and determined. As you suggested, I don’t have to do this, and yet that’s why I have to do it. I’m not seeking a career. I’m not out to impress or to promote an image. I’m a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a volunteer, a non-profit board member, a concerned and active citizen ready to serve in a new role.”

Hefner has been drawn into public policy increasingly in recent years as an active Republican volunteer. She said the early reaction to her preparations for campaigning have convinced her, “The voters are interested in supporting someone who has not already been in politics, in elected office. And, I’ve been encouraged they also seem to be looking for a woman who is worthy of support. I think that’s me.”  

Asked to elaborate on the willingness to support a woman, she said, “People are ready for a woman Republican Senator. They are ready for a woman who can hold her own and represent them with strength and conviction.”

Hefner has been active with the Oklahoma chapter of Americans for Prosperity, and introduced entrepreneur Herman Cain when he spoke at a recent Oklahoma City event for AFP.

In the anticipated race, she believes the core issues are “the economy, jobs and the budget. A lot of social issues are close to my heart and I will vote to advance conservative ideals. The people want us to get after the fiscal and spending issues, and I will.”

Carol and her husband have had a total of five children. She speaks in the present tense of her fourth child, an infant who died in 1993: “Aliya is an ambassador, waiting for us in Heaven.”

Since the little girl’s death, Carol and her husband have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical research. Hefner “came to Christ” as a result of that loss, which she says “strengthened our marriage and made me selfless.”

Hefner is feminine, with an edge: She is handy with weaponry, and proved it when she won a trophy at a GOP fundraising “shoot” at the popular H&H gun range. With a college degree in journalism, in unguarded moments Hefner can come across like the leading character portrayed by Sandra Bullock in the 2009 motion picture, “The Blind Side.”

Hefner reflects on the old expression: “Ninety percent of life is showing up.”  

Lamb can stay in the lieutenant governor’s post until early next year, but some speculate he might resign earlier than that. The fastest turnaround between creation of a Senate vacancy and an election is around 90 days. The special election schedule unfolds with a primary and than a general election (no runoff). Realistically, the earliest a new senator can be seated is probably March, although April is possible.

Others mentioned for the post include Greg Treat, an aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

Regardless of when Lt. Gov.-elect Lamb vacates his post, Hefner plans to “show up,” offering herself in “servant leadership” as his replacement.