Congressional Candidate Brings Wide Range Of Experience To Table
Patrice Douglas has been a practicing lawyer, a businesswoman, a banker, the mayor of Edmond and a member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Now she wants to represent Pottawatomie County and the rest of the Fifth District in Congress.
Douglas will face Steve Russell in an August 26 runoff for the Republican nomination for the Fifth District seat that opened up when Rep. James Lankford decided to run for the Senate.
Russell, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and served one term in the Oklahoma Senate, led Douglas by two percentage points in the July 24 first primary in the three-county district encompassing Pottawatomie, Seminole and most of populous Oklahoma County.
But both were a long way from a first-round victory. Russell had 26.6 percent of the vote in the six-person field while Douglas had 24.6 percent.
So what does Douglas plan to do to make up that narrow gap and claim the GOP nomination that has been a sure path to Washington for the better part of four decades?
Get back to basics, she said in an interview with The Countywide & Sun. She plans to do her best to start by helping whittle back what she considers to be an overblown federal budget.
“People are asking me all the time what’s the difference between me and the other candidate and why do I think I’m the most qualified,” she said.
“I think the real battle we’re facing right now are with budgets, with deficits and overreach in the federal government.
“That’s where the battles are to be fought. America is sitting on this mountain and we can fall down one side or we can choose to figure out what we’re going to do to handle it.
“It’s not going to be a short-term solution but there are solutions. I’m the one in this race who’s managed a large budget. I’m the one in this race who has seen what regulation can do to you, especially when it it’s unaccountable.”
She said that was why she ran for mayor and was elected in 2009. She got an object lesson in the importance of frugal budgeting in her first political office.
“We had the first declining budget in decades because of a decline in the sales tax revenue,” she recalled.
“I had to balance the city budget at then same time I had to figure out a way to deal with the federal government.”
Not only was she confronted with federal regulations at City Hall, she said, she found herself facing the same challenge in her fulltime job as executive vice president of First Fidelity Bank.
“As a banker, I had to help and continue to lead in my bank at the same time they handed us Dodd-Frank,” she said in reference to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. That regulatory legislation, praised by liberals as necessary to adjust banking and financial markets and condemned by conservatives as governmental overreach, was passed and signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress as well as the White House.
“I think I have the experience. I’ve lived in the district most of my life.”
Like most Republican candidates, Douglas promises to do everything she can to either repeal or drastically alter the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) if elected.
“If we can’t repeal it, we kick the legs out from under it,” she declared. She said her brother and father are in the construction business and “decided not to hire 16 new people” this past January because “they didn’t know when Obamacare costs were going to kick them.” She explained that the company had an opportunity to land a job that would have required adding 16 new people to the payroll but uncertainty about health insurance caused the family to turn it down.
“That’s unbelievable,” she said. “We worked our whole lives to grow a company and now we’re deciding not to grow it.” If it’s not possible to repeal Obamacare, she maintained, the answer is to “infinitely delay it,”
But to make her position clear, she added this: “I’m in favor of complete repeal. It’s taking our personal liberties away.” And, she noted, bills to replace or repeal the Affordable Care Act passed by the House since Republicans took over that body at the beginning of 2011 “have gone into Harry Reid’s pocket.” Reid is the majority leader of the Democrat-controlled Senate.
She also had a warning for residents of Pottawatomie and Seminole counties where petroleum production has been a major element in local economies for decades.
“We have an incredibly overreaching agency called the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The EPA affects Shawnee, Tecumseh and Seminole every day. Utility rates are going to skyrocket because they’re getting rid of coal plants.”
She also commented on “fracking,” noting that in Oklahoma, wells have been fractured since 1947. She noted that 85 to 90 percent of the state’s wells have been hydraulically fractured.
“In Oklahoma,” she said, “we have a cautious but very willing attitude to let the oil and gas industry thrive.” She said agencies trying to obstruct that attitude need to be “reined in.”
She also said she feels putting a congressional office in the Pottawatomie-Seminole County area would be “really smart. I think that’s a great idea.”
Next week: An interview with the other Republican candidate for the Fifth District seat, Steve Russell.