Oklahoma House Democrats choose 2017-18 leadership

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Democrats on Monday (May 4) elected Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, to an unprecedented fourth consecutive term as their legislative leader. The Democrats also picked Rep. Steve Kouplen to be the Caucus Chairman, and Rep. David Perryman to fill the role of Caucus Vice Chairman.

All three were unopposed in their declarations of candidacy, and were elected by acclamation Monday.

Each officer will serve a two-year term starting in November 2016. Caucus elections are held in off-years “so the members have a chance to ‘learn the ropes’, which results in a smooth transition from one officer to another,” Inman explained.

This will be Inman’s record fourth consecutive term as the House Democratic Leader. If he is re-elected next year by constituents in his legislative district and completes his fourth term as Minority Leader in 2018, he will have achieved the record as the longest-serving leader of the House Democratic Caucus in state history: eight years.

When first elected Minority Leader in May 2009, at the age of 30, Inman was the youngest person in state history to be elected leader of either legislative caucus, House or Senate, Democrat or Republican. The Del City Democrat was only 32 when he assumed the leadership reins from former Rep. Danny Morgan, D-Prague, after the general election in November 2010.

“It has been an honor to lead the House Democratic Caucus,” Inman, 36, said Monday afternoon. “It indicates that our members want to continue in the direction we’ve been heading.”

“Leader Inman lives the command from Scripture to love our neighbor each and every day,” said Rep. Eric Proctor, D-Tulsa. “Just as Nehemiah did in the Old Testament, Scott Inman is working to rebuild the walls of our state government which have been torn down through fiscal irresponsibility and neglect. It is a great blessing for the entire state to have a leader of the minority who asks tough questions and demands accountability of the majority.”

Kouplen, a Beggs Democrat who is serving his fourth term in the House of Representatives, has been the Democratic Caucus vice chairman for the past two years and will replace Rep. Jerry McPeak as the chairman. McPeak will be constitutionally term-limited when his sixth House term expires in November 2016.

The role of caucus chairman “requires a wide array of talents and a lot of extra hours and behind-the-scenes work,” said McPeak, D-Warner. “Representative Kouplen is up to the task. He is probably the most experienced leader in the Oklahoma House. There is no question he will fill the position extremely well.”

Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat who is in his second term in the Legislature, will succeed Kouplen as the caucus vice chairman. “David Perryman is a good man,” said a colleague, Rep. Wade Rousselot, D-Okay. “I would support him in any endeavor.”

Inman was born and reared in Del City. He was graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Oklahoma in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He then attended the OU law school, where he earned his juris doctorate in 2004, and afterward he practiced law with a firm in downtown Oklahoma City.

When the State House District 94 seat became vacant in 2006 Inman filed for, and was elected to, the office. He has been elected to five consecutive two-year terms in the Legislature.

Rep. Inman was inducted into the Del City High School Alumni Hall of Fame, received the George Nigh Award for Young Democratic Leadership, received the Oklahoma Public Employees Association Legislator of the Year Award in 2010 and the Rep. Opio Toure Statesman Award in 2013. Inman also was named a “rising political star” last year on NBC News by Chuck Todd, host of Meet the Press.

Rep. Kouplen, a lifelong resident of House District 24, owns a ranch near Beggs. His family has had a Hereford cow/calf operation in Oklahoma since the early 1900s.

Kouplen is a past president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau, served on the Farm Bureau’s board of directors, and was a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors. He chaired the Oklahoma Beef Industry Council, and also is a member of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association and the American Hereford Association.

He has been honored as the Northeast District Star Farmer of Oklahoma, and received the American Farmers and Ranchers Agriculture Leadership Award. Kouplen is a member of the Beggs Masonic Lodge, too.

Rep. Perryman, an attorney, has deep roots in Oklahoma and House District 56. His great-grandparents settled in western Caddo County in 1902, prior to statehood.

Perryman was graduated from Kinta High School, received degrees from Eastern Oklahoma State College and Oklahoma State University, then earned his juris doctorate at the University of Oklahoma in 1983.

He has been a partner in a Chickasha law firm since 1987, representing corporations, small businesses, medical facilities, rural water districts, cities and towns, public trust authorities and non-profit entities for nearly three decades.