Oklahoma electors unshaken in support of Trump before casting votes

Oklahoma%27s+seven+presidential+electors+will+meet+Monday+in+the+governor%27s+office+at+the+state+capitol+to+officially+cast+their+votes+for+president.+Photo+courtesy+Oklahoma+House+of+Representatives

Oklahoma’s seven presidential electors will meet Monday in the governor’s office at the state capitol to officially cast their votes for president. Photo courtesy Oklahoma House of Representatives

Emma Sears and Jessie Christopher Smith

Oklahoma’s seven Republican Presidential electors will cast their ballots for incumbent President Donald Trump shortly after 10 a.m. Monday.  

Unlike 60 years ago when a “faithless elector” didn’t vote as pledged, it’s doubtful any of this year’s GOP electors will vote for anyone other than Trump, who carried the state in the Nov. 3 election with 65 percent of the vote compared with Democratic rival and President-elect Joe Biden’s 32 percent.

“We’re proud Republicans, and we were elected as electors by the Republican Party,” Chris Martin, a state GOP committeeman from Yukon said. “You know what we think. There’s nothing really mysterious about us.”

The last time an elector voted differently than pledged was in 1960. Henry D. Irwin declined to vote for Republican nominee and then-Vice President Richard Nixon and instead voted for Senator Harry Byrd, a conservative Virginia Democrat. Oklahoma later passed a law to fine electors who did not vote for their party’s nominee.

In addition to Martin, Oklahoma’s other GOP electors for Monday’s historic vote are: Ronda Vuillemont-Smith of Broken Arrow; Lonnie Lu Anderson of Crowder; Steve Fair of Duncan; Linda Huggard of Oklahoma City; and electors-at-large A.J. Ferate of Edmond; and Dr. Carolyn McLarty of Stillwater.

Despite Trump’s allegations that the election was stolen, Ferate said he has received no pressure to change the way he plans to vote Monday.

“The Supreme Court decided that states can mandate that electors are required to vote for whomever they are required to by the state,” said Ferate, who practices at the law firm Spencer Fane in Oklahoma City. “It’s always based on the popular vote in every single state in some capacity.”

Despite the heavy support in Republican-majority Oklahoma and many other small states in the Midwest and South, Trump is projected to lose the election overall, with only 232 electoral votes to Biden’s 306, according to the Associated Press. Biden’s margin in the popular vote is just as wide.

According to the Cook Political Report, Biden received 81.3 million votes, while Trump received 74.2 million votes. But in the 15 so-called battleground states Trump received 33 million votes to Biden’s 31.9 million votes. 

Many of the state’s electors have been active committee chairs for the Oklahoma Republican Party in past years, and all have been vocal supporters of conservative causes within their districts.

McLarty, for example, has been serving as national committeewoman for Oklahoma’s Republican Party since 2008, but lost a primary bid in a special election for State Senate District 27. She remains chair for the Republican National Convention Resolutions Committee and parliamentarian for the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women.

Vuillemont-Smith was a 2012 Republican candidate for State Senate District 25, but now heads the Tulsa 9.12 Project, a conservative grassroots organization “in pursuit of limited government [and] free markets.”

Anderson is a Pittsburg County GOP committee leader and vocal Trump supporter who, despite support for the pro-life movement, has faced off against abortion abolitionists in recent months.

Fair is a former national committeeman and treasurer for the Oklahoma Republican Party who since 2007 has run his own blog called “Fair and Biased,” where he regularly posts opinions and editorials from a conservative and religious viewpoint.

Huggard is a longtime Republican activist and owner of the Broadway Machine & Motor Supply in Oklahoma City who was first elected National Committeeman in 2016. 

Ferate began his affiliation with the party at the age of 17 in Seattle where he grew up, but moved to Oklahoma in 2003. He has since worked for Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, served as General Counsel for the Oklahoma Republican Party, assisted in regulating the state’s oil and gas industry, and is a member of the conservative Federalist Society.

 

Gaylord News is a Washington-based reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication.