Jason Reese seeks House District 83 seat in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City attorney Jason Reese is seeking the House District 83 seat now held by state Rep. Randy McDaniel. Reese is off to a fast start, with about $25,000 in his campaign coffers. That is a tidy sum for a first-time candidate, and exceeds typical early contributions for state house races.

A Republican, Reese held a well-attended fundraiser hosted by Rusty LaForge, general counsel for Bank SNB in the capital city. Former Gov. Frank Keating spoke at the event, saying he supported election of “people like Jason – to bring integrity, vision, raw intelligence to bear on our issues.”

Reese told attendees at his May 8 kickoff event he was a proud Oklahoman, coming to the state as as young man who was one of the “refugees from Ann Richards’ Texas.”

Reese fondly recalled his early years, including when the family moved 25 miles from his father’s workplace, to find the best possible public school for Jason. In state education policy, Reese worries the key problem for young people “is less economic inequality than it is inequality of aspiration.” While policy makers can’t create all the elements to “give them a good life, we can give them opportunities” to succeed.

Reese lauded McDaniel, who will leave the Legislature next year due to term limits, saying Oklahoma would be “teetering on the brink” if not for fiscal reforms McDaniel guided in the state’s pension systems.

Reese also touted the example of former state Rep. Jason Nelson, another Oklahoma City Republican, whose eight years at the state Capitol were marked leadership in education reform, including school choice, and social welfare policy.

Reese’s campaign themes stress he is a “reformer, realist, Republican.”

In a press release coinciding with the campaign launch, Reese said, “Oklahoma desperately needs leadership at the state capitol. I believe I can provide the principled, conservative leadership necessary to strengthen our communities, promote practical solutions for our state, and expand opportunity for all Oklahomans.” He promised to focus on “honoring the contribution of skilled labor to the broader prosperity of Oklahoma.” 

Keating looked back on his years in the executive mansion (1995-2003), which were marked by economic progress (state per capita personal income increased steadily). Keating expressed some frustration with recent Republican governance, observing, “Somehow or another we’ve been treading water, and treading water is not a policy.”

Keating said tax credits are too pervasive, and said the maintenance of 520 separate school districts deprives classrooms of needed resources. “We need to focus on administrative excess, and get good administration at the sites.” He asserted, “To have great public schools, we need a reformed system of governance in schools.”

The newest member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents, Keating supports reforms in Higher Education. Keating contends the state might want to consider other efficiencies, such as merging the community college system with Career Tech.

Attendees at the spring fundraiser included Reese’s colleague, attorney Ryan Leonard, and former U.S. Attorney Bill Price, now a member of the Oklahoma Board of Education. Also supportive of the legislative hopeful were Andy Lester, an attorney, and former state Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas.

Reese is a member of the state Merit Protection Commission. He earned his bachelor’s degree “magna cum laude” from the University of Oklahoma. After a year studying at Notre Dame University school of Law, he came home to OU, where he earned his second degree. Reese has been named a “Rising Star” six years in a row by Super Lawyers, a website that monitors high achievers in 70 areas of American law.

Reese serves on the board of the Quail Springs Homeowners Association. He also serves on the board of Cristo Rey High School, scheduled to open in 2018, which will provide educational opportunities for underprivileged teens.

Reese and his wife Jessica have four children. The family attends Christ the King Parish Church.