by Patrick B. McGuigan
Rodd Moesell, an Oklahoma City businessman and a Republican party volunteer without peer, remembers when there were entire counties in Oklahoma where the Grand Old Party had no real chance to win elections. Those willing to carry the party banner, once upon a time, were known not as candidates, but as victims.
Things sure have changed since Moesell first volunteered in 1962, as a boy, for the campaign of the late Henry Bellmon, the first Republican governor in state history.
Republicans now hold every statewide elected position and dominate both houses of the state Legislature. For his part in making that happen over the last five decades, Moesell was designated winner of the 2013 Ronald Reagan Award. The award was presented to him at last weekend’s Reagan dinner, on the eve of the Republican state convention in Oklahoma City.
Principal speaker at the event was Fred Barnes, a television commentator and a Washington, D.C. Institution as a writer for The Weekly Standard.
Barnes paid affectionate tribute to the late President Reagan and to the Californian’s partner in transforming public policy in western democracies, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who died this month. Barnes made the case that the duo transformed the traetment of taxes, spending and regulations in their two countries, and said that the burden rests on contemporary Republicans to “repair the damage” done to the American system in recent years.
The political analyst said that one of the most significant political transformations during his career is that, after the retirement of U.S. Rep. Dan Boren of Oklahoma, “the most liberal Republicans in Congress are more conservative than the most conservative Democrats.”
Attorney General Scott Pruitt, before presenting a commemorative gavel to state party Chairman Matt Pinnell, recalled that when he was first elected to the state Senate in 1998, Democrats had a 33-15 advantage in the Legislature’s upper chamber. Now, positions are revered, with the GOP holding a 36-12 advantage.
Pinnell expressed appreciation to party activists and supporters for helping to transform Oklahoma politics with dramatic 2010 results, when he led “the honor of a lifetime” as his party seized control of state govenrment. But Pinnell reminded the faithful: “You know, 2014 is just around the corner. It takes money and everything else to win.”
Other honorees included “rising star” designee Stella Hernandez, who was introduced by Evelyn McCoy, chairwoman of the Oklahoma City Republican women’s club. The Skip Healey party builder award, presented by Steve Fair and Pam Pollard, went to Allie and Sharon Burgin, who have transformed Garfield County into a Republican stronghold in recent decades.
Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating served as master of ceremonies for the awards ceremony. Gov. Mary Fallin delivered the sclosing address at the dinner.
Other Republican officials at the dinner included U.S. Reps. Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin, Schools Superintendent Janet Barresi, Treasurer Ken Miller, Auditor & Inspector Gary Jones, Corporation Commissioners Bob Anthony and Dana Murphy, and Labor Commissioner Mark Costello. Also attending were several members of the Legislature, including state Rep. Gus Blackwell, who served as party convention chairman.
Oklahoma Republicans designate Rodd Moesell “Ronald Reagan Award” winner
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