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Republican Candidates Unite To Back President Trump


March 19, 2020

Countywide & Sun/Suzie Campbell

Rep. Zack Taylor delivers an update from the House to attendees of the CD 5 GOP Forum Friday, March 13.


"Unity is the word for 2020," said 5th District GOP Chairman DeWayne McAnally. "If we have unity, we will win this race. If we don't, we won't."

Every Republican candidate for Congressional District 5 who attended the forum held at Gordon Cooper Technology Center Friday, March 15, was united in regard to backing President Trump, getting Kendra Horn out of office, firing Nancy Pelosi, fixing healthcare and securing the border.

Despite early turmoil surrounding confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Oklahoma City the night before, the candidates were eager to meet voters in Pottawatomie County. State Sen. Stephanie Bice was first up.

Bice is a fourth-generation Oklahoma who was born and raised in the 5th congressional district. She is a graduate of Putnam City High School and subsequently completed a degree in business marketing and international business at Oklahoma State University.

She was first elected to state office in 2014. When she decided to run, only three women were sitting in the 48 seats of the senate. "There was an opportunity for me to do something big and bold and outside the box," said Bice. "I could bring those conservative values to the table." In 2018 Bice won her second bid for office.

Bice wants to work with President Donald Trump to secure the border using technology and whatever it takes to "make that happen."

She also plans to work on healthcare solutions. "We have high doctor bills, high prescription drug prices, and high premiums. That has to stop." 

Bice said she has helped champion some big, bold initiatives at the state level that have helped grow the economy. She feels her business background and the short time in politics given her the ability to represent voters conservatively.

Michael Ballard said, "Every election is important, but 2020 is very important. Do we stay a constitutional Republic like our founding fathers, and mothers, felt we should be? Or do we go down the dark and evil path of socialism?"

Ballard, a basic training and AIT School honor graduate, retired from the United States Army in 2010. "I was in the field artillery, which is one of the reasons I cannot hear," said Ballard. "My favorite word is huh."

Ballard is running for congress for the same reason he joined the Army, "to defend my country, my state, my family, the constitution, and your family." 

"We're in a war," said Ballard. "We cannot just sit back, let politicians do what they want to. We have to get involved. We have to get out and vote. Socialism is on the march in this country."

He said, "I am a truly constitutional, conservative republican. We can all agree that Kendra Horn has got to go. We cannot replace her with just anybody. We need fighters. We need constitutional conservatives that have a backbone."

Ballard is a lifelong, active Republican. "I didn't decide to become a republican the day before I decided to run for office. I was against common core, and I've never raised your taxes. I am an abolitionist. I'm for overturning abortion."

Merideth VanSant was raised in Edmond through the Edmond Public School system. She said she has a blue-collar background, but the family worked hard together and now owns multiple businesses. "My dad did not finish high school, and my mom did not finish college," said VanSant. "As we found success, we had one goal, helping our community become successful through jobs. We hired the struggling breadwinners, the people out of prison. We went out of our way to help our community through employment."

The Edmond graduate completed a master's program at Oklahoma State University and was soon recruited to Washington, DC, to work in national security policy as it relates to business operations across the country. She said, "I got a first-hand taste of how much bureaucracy and inefficiencies, ineffectiveness, and perceived fraud is happening in our federal government." 

"Our values and personal responsibility of integrity, of freedom, of liberty; they're not being represented in the national conversation," said VanSant. "We're actually being misrepresented. I've got the expertise in local, national, and global economics, national security, and business to get the job done. And I have the drive and the work ethic to make it happen on day one. I know we have a tough race ahead. Still, like our President and like our Governor, I'm a business person that has experienced the inefficiencies and ineffectiveness of government, and I'm ready to make congress work again for all of us." 

"How many of you are ready to fire Kendra Horn?" said Terry Neese. "How many of you are ready to fire Nancy Pelosi? I am a third-generation Oklahoman, a Christian, a true entrepreneur, a small business advocate, a mom, a pilot, and a conservative Republican for Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District."

Neese said she has been in Shawnee, Pottawatomie, and Seminole counties a lot talking to voters. She said she has a lot of local endorsements and two key conservative national endorsements: FreedomWorks 2020 and Eagle Forum 2020 

She said, "We are facing a crossroads in our district. On one path, we have Christian, conservative values, and the free market that has made this nation so great. On the other, we have a socialist system that has failed everywhere it has been tried.  We must preserve the second amendment, defend the sanctity of life, and secure our borders. 

Neese left college and began her own business, Neese Personnel, with $600 in her pocket.  The company is still operating and has provided over 37,000 jobs for Oklahomans. 

"I'm not looking for a career in Washington. I'm not looking to make friends with the political establishment. I'm looking to stop the spread of socialism and fight with President Donald J. Trump to make this country continue to be great again," said Neese. 

Businessman David Hill said, "We are facing a crossroads, and we have to have the wherewithal to make a decision. I think Oklahomans are ready to make a decision. You're ready to make a decision for a different kind of representative than you have in Kendra Horn."

"I was sitting like most of you the morning after Kendra won, and I was shocked and dismayed. I just couldn't believe that she'd won against Steve Russell," said Hill. Then he received a call asking if he had thought about running. "Absolutely not. It hadn't crossed my mind."

His friend continued to talk. "I was going to say no," said Hill. "I was just waiting for my friend to stop talking. Then I thought of my three sons. All three decided to serve in the United States military. Each of them came to me at different times and said, 'Dad, I think I should serve.' And I thought maybe this is how I sacrifice for my country right now. 

"You know politics is not only messy in Washington, politics is messy right here in Oklahoma," said Hill. "I'm willing to go to Washington and sacrifice for you. It won't be the best job I've ever had. I don't even like Washington."

He said, "I'm a businessman, a conservative, pro-life, pro 2nd amendment, pro-Trump, for controlling the southern border – building the wall. You've heard this many times, but I want you to know I'll go to Washington as a businessman, and I will work for you. Not for other politicians. Not for myself, but for you all."

Shelli Landon "God has not given me a fear but a power of might and sound mind. We were just in Washington, DC, about a week and a half ago."

"I was there working with my husband, Barry," said Landon. "We were with White House aides and various members of the government and with a representative who was a former member of the joint chiefs of staff trying to help stop the coronavirus."

She said, "As a survivor of cancer, health insurance is very important to me. The social security system that is broken and needs to be fixed is a very important issue. 

"As we came back from Washington last week, I was understanding that there are more national security concerns with ICE. I am very excited about what they are doing on the border, but the situation is so out of control. We need much more diligent attention to it with legislative action. 

"I've been trained in national security by a former top investigator. We all got involved and realized that we're going to get too far involved where the combat was. Too little, too late on the border. There's so much more we need to do."

Landon said she would like to put forth a program to allow tax breaks for 501c3 organizations who help with the wall and educating legal immigrants.

"I have enjoyed being an Oklahoman most of my adult life and I look forward to representing you well in Washington, DC."

Two additional expected candidates did not appear at the forum; however, McLoud resident, Charles Pringle, asked for a chance to speak to the crowd. Pringle said he had not been able to get in touch with anyone prior to the forum. He only found out about the meeting the evening before. McAnally handed him the microphone to address the crowd.

Although born in Oklahoma in 1936, Pringle moved from California to McLoud thirteen years ago. "Some people might want to call me a carpet bagger," said Pringle. He moved to California at age 11 and  "was in business there for 50 years.

Countywide & Sun/Suzie Campbell

Charlie Pringle did not participate in the question and answer portion of the forum. He did let everyone know he would be on the ballot come election time.

"This lady said she had $600, when I started, well I was broke. I had a real estate license, and people said we only hire full-time people, so I quit my job. We didn't have unemployment. The first week I got a check for $75. If you want to know why they call me Tuffy, I believe in standing up for my rights.

"I don't believe in income taxes. Our country got along very well for 150 years without income taxes. I believe in fighting for what I believe in, just like you just saw. I came here expecting to get to talk, and I fought for that opportunity. When I go to Washington, I'm going to fight against Nancy Pelosi, and everybody else and they're going to think a tornado hit them when I get there. I will not give up. I will be the hardest working congress person there. I won't give up and I won't give in."

If you would like to see a video of the forum in its entirety, visit the Pottawatomie County Republican Party page on FaceBook.


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