OKLAHOMA CITY – In early November, state Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, issued a statement in response to comments made by fellow lawmakers. In the comments sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations, Osborn said:
“In the last few months, members of my political party and caucus have called women ‘hosts,’ suggested Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) pluck children from schools to save taxpayer dollars in education, and now have called our hard-working, underpaid state employees terrorists. These are the same people who protect our foster children, keep our streets safe, educate our children, prosecute criminals and treat the mentally ill.
“No one has addressed or apologized for these statements that do not represent our body as a whole. In special session we have heard the impending tales of horror to come due to lack of state funding; the mentally ill’s loss of services, closure of rural hospitals and nursing homes, and the end of programs to assist the developmentally disadvantaged. However, we refuse real bipartisan solutions to properly fund core services. I am embarrassed to be a part of these failures; it’s not what I ran on or signed up for. …
“I hope that Republicans across the state will stand together and say enough. That they will rally to the call of Pres. George W. Bush to be compassionate conservatives. That they will cry out for civil discourse and legislators that work across the aisle and rotunda with honest conversation instead of shenanigans, name calling and political gamesmanship. Please hold us accountable, expect more, demand more….our state deserves better.”
Elected in 2008, Osborn has served in the state Legislature since taking the oath of office in 2009. She is a member (and former chairman) of the Appropriations and Budget Commitee, and of the Judiciary Committee.
Although not subject to term limits until 2020, she announced last summer she would run for Commissioner of Labor, a statewide elective position (http://www.capitolbeatok.com/reports/two-women-enter-race-for-republican-nomination-as-oklahoma-commissioner-of-labor).
As the McCarville Report, an online news organization, reported at that time, “Before being elected to the House in 2008, Osborn was a small business owner for more than two decades. Now she is turning her attention to asking voters for her to take on the mantle of Labor Commissioner.”
McCarville reported her saying: “I understand the important role the Labor Commission can play in building a better and stronger Oklahoma by championing people, jobs and businesses. In addition to making sure Oklahoma workers have safe places to work, we need a Labor Commissioner who is willing to visit and work with business owners across the state to find ways we can help them expand and succeed.”
Rep. Osborn has been a frequent guest on analyst Scott Mitchell’s “Hot Seat” program on News9, often in past years jousting with former state Rep. Richard Morrissette, a Democrat. She has worked on flood control issues and other policy matters during her tenure.
Osborn ran the House Judiciary panel under former House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton.
Current Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, named Osborn to run the appropriations and budget panel during the winter of 2016-17. She advanced efforts to close a state budget gap through revenue enhancement measures characterized as fee increases, not tax hikes. Proposals she supported gained narrow majority support, and the signature of Gov. Mary Fallin during the regular spring (February-May) session.
Last summer, Speaker McCall removed her from the job in in the lower chamber. At that time, she commented in a press release sent to CapitolBeatOK and other news organizations, “Speaker [Charles] McCall’s decision to relieve me of my duties as Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee is his to make. I am disheartened by his decision, but I am not deterred in my desire to work for the betterment of our wonderful State.”
McCall said he supports Osborn’s candidacy for the Labor post.
The Republican primary for the position will be held June 26, 2018, with the general election on November 6, 2018. Also seeking the job are Edmond businesswoman Cathy Costello and former state Senator Leo Kingston.
Thus far, no Democrats have announced an intention to seek the job.