John Handy Edwards battles independent expenditures benefiting his foe in S.D. 40 campaign

OKLAHOMA CITY – In state Senate District 40 (northwest Oklahoma City), John Handy Edwards will square off against a physician who has benefited from frequent “dark money” expenditures in the last few months.

Edwards’ family history includes the story of his mother, Thao, a native of Vietnam whom came to the United States with several dozen other refugees after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Thao married her liberator, Ellis Edwards, a veteran of the Vietnam conflict.

Edwards says his family honors “the people of Oklahoma” for the way they “opened their arms to the Vietnamese refugees. So many came forward to help members of the Vietnamese community find places to live, get jobs, and become another special part of Oklahoma’s community. This is one of the reasons I love Oklahoma.”

In his campaign, Edwards has emphasized support for education, small business and “common sense” solutions to issues. He has criticized political groups that do not disclose donors, and has not accepted what he calls “special interest” money in the campaign.

Owner and operator of small businesses with emphasis on energy and real estate, Edwards is a graduate of Bishop John Carroll Elementary and Bishop McGuinness High School. He has college degrees from both Southern Methodist University and the University of Oklahoma.

Edwards’ opponent in the November 4 election is Ervin Yen, a Nichols Hills anesthesiologist who has benefited from significant independent expenditures this year. Stressing his “conservative” credentials, Yen had a heavy spending advantage in his party’s primary and runoff process, in which he criticized a conservative Christian pastor who was his strongest 

GOP opponent in a multi-candidate field.

Yen is backed by OK United, known as a “dark money” group, apparently an offshoot of the OKC United group that played a role in the city’s recent mayoral election. 

That group, closely affiliated to the city and state Chambers of Commerce, is also active in a few other legislative races.

In the crucial primary time frame, seven pro-Yen mailings to District 40 voters came from the Oklahoma Society of Anesthesiologists, with three from OK United pressing for Yen’s nomination.

The two contenders are well-known in the local Asian-American community.  

Patrick McGuigan