A long day at the sausage factory

A long day at the sausage factory

If you are fond of the taste of sausage then never let yourself get talked into watching how its made and especially never agree to participate in the process of making it.  Even still, a state political convention is something everyone should experience at least once.  This past Saturday over 600 passionate delegates from all over this, the state through which passes the most conservative stretch of Old Route 66, met at the Tower Hotel in Oklahoma City for the 2017 Oklahoma Democratic Party State Convention.  If you’ve ever had to herd cats you might get a sense of the magnitude and scope of this particular evolution.

Now remember, this was a function of our Oklahoma Democratic Party where every day is a holiday, every meal is a banquet and ever caucus meeting is a family reunion.  We are the big tent full of kitty cats, puppy dogs, sunshine, rainbows, and Dem logos!  Yeah, I know…..now I am going have to go pee in a bottle!

The runup to this exercise of total political party immersion actually began on Friday evening with the annual Carl Albert Black Tie Dinner at the Tower Hotel Ballroom.  As most of you regular readers may recall, Yours Truly is currently serving as the Vice President of the ODP Veterans Committee.  A few weeks ago I had reserved a corner room with a city view on the 16th floor to have our Veterans Committee Hospitality Suite because all the actual hospitality suites were already booked.  Friday was a work day so I got a late start for OKC.  I arrived at 5:30 PM to find the hotel had given us the large party suite next to the corner room I had reserved.  It was much more spacious with more amenities and we had many dinner and convention attendees visit the suite.  Veterans Committee President John Pettyjohn and I had to find our way down to the banquet room to be ready for the opening ceremony so we left the suite management duty to a seasoned committee member.  It was while we were waiting to take the stage for our part in the opening ceremony that I received a text from our committee staffer upstairs that the hotel had discovered their error and that deluxe suite we were in was actually reserved for the dinner keynote speaker, DNC Deputy Chairman Congressman Keith Ellison.  I was also informed that the Congressman was very upset with the error as the hotel staff very hurriedly moved our supplies to the corner room with a view.  This left Yours Truly sweating the load as to how to schmooze over the mistake with the Congressman.  For our part in the opening ceremony, Committee President Pettyjohn led the dinner attendees in The Pledge of Allegiance and I requested all to remain standing for a moment of silence in deference “For those standing watch, for those who stood the watch and for those who are standing the Eternal Watch.”  After a soloist sang The Star-Spangled Banner, Yours Truly was given the mic.  I provided a quick description of the purpose of Veterans Committee, that being the point of contact through which all U.S. Military veterans and their dependents can provide input to Democratic elected officials and legislators for the purpose of crafting better and more useful veteran-friendly public policy through legislation to serve the entire veteran community of our state.  I then introduced President Pettyjohn who announced our Veteran Committee Awards for 2017.  Our 2017 Veteran’s Legislator of the Year, House Minority Leader Scott Inman, was still in session at the State Capitol so his wife, Dessa, accepted the award in his stead.  Mr. Inman eventually did make it to the dinner and was able to pose for the photo below.

Yours Truly, Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman and his wife, Dessa.

The Veterans Committee Volunteer of the Year for 2017 was a non-veteran who has done much for our committee and for the Oklahoma veterans, Ms. Ellen Stevens (photo not available).  Our 2017 Veteran of the Year award was bestowed upon committee member and fellow Navy veteran Annie Menz.

Annie Menz, Veteran of the Year 2017

During our time on stage I happened to notice that Congressman Ellison was seated at a table right in front of the podium.  Upon our dismissal I stepped off the stage and made a point to introduce myself to the Congressman.  Keith Ellison was totally cool, very genuine and actually was not a bit upset about the hotel’s mistake.  He told me he did not mind at all giving up his suite to the Veterans.  It was in fact all good.  I stayed and listened to Congressman Ellison’s speech.  His son, an Army MP, went through basic training at Fort Sill.  Long story short, the Congressman said all the right things members of a party in rebuilding/retooling mode needed to hear.

DNC Deputy Chair Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN)

After the dinner we all adjourned to our various after dinner parties and suites.  Let the record show that the Veterans Committee hospitality suite got many positive comments.  I’m sure that was because we were not pushing a given candidate or issue.

Saturday morning, on Democratic Daylight Time, the sausage making fest began in earnest.  We Veterans Committee officers were present to assist with the opening ceremonies ala the previous night’s formal dinner.  Yours Truly was not even a voting delegate.  One thing I did do was volunteer to be a counter for standing votes, which there was only one such vote before I adjourned myself well into the evening.  The sausage grinder worked its magic slowly as is the case with such things as electing party officers.  After being called to order shortly after 10 AM and adjourning for lunch and reconvening just after 1 PM, the four candidates for Party Chair, Annastacia Langthorn, Mark Henricksen, Sarah Baker and Mike Workman all made their pitches.  After the initial vote the two highest vote-getters, Langthorn and Henricksen, went to runoff.  Langthorn, the Oklahoma Young Democrat, won the runoff by a significant margin over the old, well established Oklahoma City trial lawyer Henricksen.

ODP Chair Annastacia Langthorn

Sarah Baker ran a respectable campaign but fell far short of challenging either Langthorn or Henricksen.  Perennial candidate Mike Workman received a whopping five (5) votes out of over 600 cast in the pre-runoff ballot.

This is a personal message to Mr. Workman, a known reader of this blog:

Mike, you have a long and admirable track record for supporting Democratic candidates and involvement in the Democratic Party.  In the past three election cycles I have seen you run for Labor Commissioner, for U.S. Senate and now for ODP Chair, these in addition to your bid for the HD 70 seat a decade or more ago.  You have been roundly rejected each time by a significant margin.  More than a few times I as a Democratic Party volunteer, precinct chair and now mid-level party official have had to field criticisms to the effect of “Is the likes of Workman the best you can find to run for a candidate?”  I always have had to set the questioner straight with the reply, “We did not run Workman.  He ran himself.”  Yes Mike, you have been carrying high quality H2O for Democrats for a lot of years.  As such, you must be willing to accept reality and understand that the waterboy simply does not proclaim himself quarterback of the team and expect everyone to line up, snap him the ball and block for him.  Such an endeavor requires intangibles I have not ever seen you display, you know, like leadership, organizational skills, a minimum level of motivation to reach out to the undecided John and Jane Q. Voter, a cognizance that the quest for public office is less about you and more for the people you seek to serve and a willingness to put forth the effort and expend the necessary amount of sweat on the campaign trail to succeed on Election Day.  Certain tangible things are also very helpful, you know, like an automobile and an Oklahoma Driver’s License.  Honestly Mike, it is time for you to hang up this charade of perpetual candidacy.  You have been at a point for some time now where you are doing more to satiate your own ego than you are helping the Democratic Party or anyone in it.  Please accept my amicable request to stop it now.

Perennial candidate Mike Workman

The vote for Vice Chair went about as slow as the one for Chair.  It was a calmly contested race between Norman resident and former Independent U.S. Senate candidate Sean Braddy and Talihina, Oklahoma native and Young Democrat Brian Jones.  Jones won the vote going away and by shortly after 7 PM was giving his acceptance speech.  At 7:15 PM Yours Truly stood himself down and headed home for Tulsa.  I learned on Sunday that David Ratcliff won another term as Secretary of the ODP.  It is my understanding that the convention was not adjourned for voting delegates until well after midnight.

My congratulations to the new slate of officers of the ODP.  They have much to do to further the work started by outgoing Chair Mark Hammons.  Hammons’ policy was that no Republican will run for any state office or for any legislative seat unopposed.  With few exceptions he was able to accomplish that in 2016.  The new party officers still have much work to do to build the party, hopefully from the demographic they represent moving ahead.  It was duly noted that there were still enough counties to matter with zero delegates at this convention.

It was indeed a long day at the sausage factory.  If the dedication of any delegate can tolerate and harness the forces of competing energy that was present at this puppy dog and kitty cat show, then there is hope for the Oklahoma Democratic Party going forward.

2 Comments

  1. Carl A.
    May 25, 2017

    Rah, rah! Go Talihina Golden Tigers! 😉

  2. Ray Rowe
    May 23, 2017

    I had to leave early, enjoyed the review. Thank you.