Wright says state rep job not affected
State Rep. Harold Wright of Weatherford was displaced Saturday from the Executive Committee of the Oklahoma Republican Party, but he said Monday it won’t affect his position as a House leader or his service to his constituents during his last two years in office.
Wright has represented District 57 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for the past 10 years and has two more to go before being term-limited. He also is the House’s speaker pro tem, a top leadership position, and he said Monday that won’t be affected either. In fact, he said he will still be elected speaker pro tem today (Tuesday) and will be sworn in by Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Jim Winchester, who grew up in Clinton.
“There were three candidates for speaker pro tem, and I won by a majority of the vote without a runoff,” said Wright, referring to the vote in the Republican caucus. “To do that, with three people running, I had to get over 50 percent. Tomorrow I will be nominated and elected by a majority.”
Wright said he was booted off the Executive Committee for donating money to the campaign of fellow Weatherford resident Jeff Berrong, a Democrat who was a candidate last year for the State Senate. Berrong lost to Republican nominee Brent Howard of Altus.
“I donated to Jeff’s campaign because he’s family and a friend of our family,” said Wright. “They’ve supported me in the past, and I thought it was just the right thing to do for me.”
Wright also said he’s donated over $50,000 in the past of his personal money to fellow Republicans. “I think it’s a little bit unfair they did this to me, but they did,” he said.
He added that he’s also knocked doors for other Republican candidates.
The Executive Committee of the Republican Party that he was voted off of is a very large organization whose membership includes all party members in the State Senate as well as the State House, plus other top Republicans.
Wright was voted off during a meeting Saturday which he did not attend.
A story in the weekend edition of Sooner Politics quoted Steve Curry – the Oklahoma GOP’s national committeeman – as saying his ouster from the Executive Committee was for helping fund Berrong’s effort against Howard. The story said he funneled at least $1,000 to the Democrat, according to documents filed with the State Ethics Commission.
Wright himself did not say how much he contributed, but he said it was all private money and not GOP campaign money that had been donated to him for any of his past campaigns.
“That money was personal income and not from any other source,” he said.
The story in Sooner Politics said Rule 19-g, apparently of the Executive Party’s guidelines, states that campaigning for, or giving money to the opponent of a Republican nominee is grounds for removal from all party leadership roles. Wright told the Clinton Daily News he was not aware of that.
“I didn’t know they had a rule like that,” he said. “Apparently it’s a rule of the committee. To pick on me was a little bit uncalled for.
“What really bothers me is they did not give me any notice. They just did it.”
Wright said the motion to expel him was made by Andrew Lopez of Yukon, the Canadian County party chairman.
“It doesn’t affect my job at all,” he said, adding that he would be elected speaker pro tem by a majority of House Republicans. “It has no bearing on my job as a state representative either,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of people call me and tell me they support me. The Berrongs supported me and my daughter, Angela (Marsee), who’s the district attorney.”
Wright said his priorities, in order, are God, family, country and state.
Asked if he would run for another office when his current term ends in two years, he said, “Not at this time. I’ve got some things I want to do, but you never say never. My goal is to make Oklahoma better.”