Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – An attorney in the Sooner State’s capital city, Jackie Short is an independent candidate running for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Short announced on the day she filed she will not take donations from companies the Commission regulates.
Short’s legal practice reflects a broad range, including for a “mentally challenged” woman divorcing an abusive husband. Others benefiting from her legal ability have included seeking a “rightful inheritance” and an elderly woman owed back pay from a “deadbeat employer.” In another instance, she battled successfully for an older couple who had to fend off an adverse possession claim over their land. Her descriptions of cases she’s worked over many decades are compelling and literate.
Clerk for a veteran lawyer early in her career, Jackie ultimately began her own law practice and has become an experienced litigator, including in administrative law.
“Environmental attorney” is one term she used, in an interview, to summarize her focus. In the course of her career, she has worked both defense and plaintiff cases for oil and gas, giving her insight on the diverse issues she would face as a Commissioner. She has wide-ranging knowledge of business issues, and is a licensed real estate broker.
“Jackie” as she insists being called soon after initial introductions, has extensive service on boards for worthy causes around the city area, including the Downtown Lion’s Club. A member of Toastmasters, Jackie is the local group’s past president. She was active, as well, in establishment of the Painted Sky Opera company, Oklahoma’s first professional opera troupe.
The Senior Follies, a popular annual review starring prominent locals, is one of her favorite recurring activities. She helped the group secure its legal tax-exempt status, but her best known contributions there might be on-stage in the annual revue rooted in the “Ziegfield Follies” tradition. Jackie regularly garners positive reviews for her duets and solos, often with a country and western flair. Jackie also performed in the Oklahoma City Gridiron Club’s annual parodies of politics and public figures.
For almost three decades, Short raised and cared for her niece, Angela, who has cerebral palsy and intellectual disabilities. She has adjusted well, Jackie told The City Sentinel, and now lives in a group home. After graduating from the University of Central Oklahoma, she garnered the Master of Liberal Arts degree from Oklahoma City University. She did that while attending night school and working in construction. Ultimately, Jackie earned a juris doctorate from the University of Oklahoma law school. During her time in law school, she worked on law review.
A native Oklahoman, she was born on a farm near the small community of Lacy and grew up in a large family. She comfortably discusses her Hispanic and Germanic heritage. Her father became a police officer in Hennessey, where Jackie earned her high school degree Both her parents had EMT training and skills, which helped fashion her eclectic personal interests and abilities.
As an independent, Short faces an uphill struggle to gain name recognition and a shot of victory in November.
The Oklahoman, the state’s largest newspaper, reported on Short and four other independent candidates who are running a “coordinated campaign based on open government,” reporter Dale Denwalt wrote. His summary sketched her comments this way: “Short said she would be a voice of reason between environmentalists and the energy industry as corporation commissioner.”
The two major parties held primaries in June, and both had runoffs on August 28.
In the first round, incumbent Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony secured 47.16 percent (197,385 votes), gaining an edge over former state State Sen. Brian Bingman, who had 160,812 supporters (38.81 percent). A third candidate got only 14 percent, enough to trigger the runoff.
In the runoff late last month, Bingman surged in percentage terms, getting 46.39 percent backing (with 134,981 votes). Anthony secured the GOP nod with 139,988 supporters (53.61 percent).
As for Democrats, Ashley Nicole McCray led the Democratic field in the June primary, with 180,719 votes, and with 48.79 percent. Blake Cummings (82,138 supporters, 22.17 percent) just barely garnered a spot in the runoff. In their final showdown, McCray advanced to the general election with 87, 752 votes (65.08 percent), overwhelming Cummings’ 47,081 supporters (34.92 percent).
Short’s policy views, developed over her 66 years of life, fall in the middle of the philosophical spectrum — perhaps unsurprising in that she was in the past a Democrat, and then a Republican. Disenchanted with each major party, she is now registered as an Independent (the state’s fastest growing voter affiliation).
In her campaign, she is promising fair scrutiny of the industries the Corporation Commission regulates, saying her legal and lifetime experiences have prepared her for the job.
NOTE: This story is adapted and updated from a story that first appeared in the August 2018 print edition of The City Sentinel newspaper.