The Oklahoma Republican Party ousted its chairman on Saturday despite the party's November election success in increasing its majority control of both chambers of the state Legislature, winning every statewide elected office, all five U.S. House and both U.S. Senate seats.
The party elected former state Sen. Randy Brogdon as its new chairman, replacing Dave Weston. Party spokeswoman Courtney Blossey said Brogdon defeated long-time GOP activist Pam Pollard in a runoff after Weston was earlier eliminated from the race.
"It was a fun day," said Brogdon, 61, a tea party favorite and former state senator from Owasso who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2014. Both he and Pollard had stressed diversifying the party and reaching out to young people and minority groups.
Weston, 46, who spent 23 years in the financial services industry before being elected party chairman in 2013, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Blossey said exact vote totals would not be released, but that Brogdonreceived just more than 53 percent of the vote in the runoff. She said there were about 1,300 voting delegates at the state convention in Oklahoma City.
Brogdon thanked Weston for his leadership, and said he does not think the vote was a repudiation of Weston.
"It's not necessarily someone doing a bad job, just people wanted a change," Brogdon said. "I've always been a grass-roots campaigner ... we just had more of our people there."
Brogdon said he wants the party to become more conservative, supporting limited government and individual freedom.
"I want to move the party in the 'right' direction," Brogdon said, meaning that he wants to move it politically to the right, not that it's been going in the wrong direction.
A spokesman for Republican Gov. Mary Fallin did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the decision.
Oklahoma Democrats will also have a new leader after current Chairman Wallace Collins said he won't run for another two-year term.
Current party vice-chair Dana Orwig and Oklahoma City attorney Mark Hammons have both announced plans to seek that post at the Democratic Party Convention on May 30.
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