Oklahoma City, OK – With only a week remaining before the February 9th primary elections for OKC City Council, Bradley Carter has emerged as a strong candidate for the Ward 1 race. The Ward 1 seat, which is being vacated by conservative James Greiner, has the largest field of the four council races with 9 candidates.
Since the first Candidates Forum hosted by the NW OKC Chamber of Commerce, three candidates have stood out as clear contenders: Jay Sherrill, Shay Varnell, and Bradley Carter. Since the forum the candidates have spoken at numerous county precinct meetings in Ward 1, which is an extensive area stretching from south of Lake Hefner up to Piedmont.
Sherrill and Varnell started as the more experienced candidates, with both having public service experience. Sherrill serves on the Putnam City School Board, while Varnell serves on the OKC Traffic and Transportation Committee. Carter, who is a successful local businessman and owner of Grounds 4 Compassion Coffee Company, is new to politics.
The Establishment Candidates
While one would think that the more experienced candidates would make the better choice, statements made by both Sherrill and Varnell have given the citizens of the staunchly conservative ward reason to believe that they are much closer to being “establishment” candidates than actual authentic constitutional conservatives.
In the NW OKC Chamber’s Candidate Forum Sherrill, when asked why he decided to run, stated that his decision was mostly based on the request from former OKC Mayor and gubernatorial candidate Mick Cornett. Sherrill even commented that Cornett, “pretty much runs my campaign.”
Though Cornett is a long-time stalwart in Oklahoma politics, he is far from a constitutional conservative – a fact that the voters of Oklahoma made clear in the 2018 Gubernatorial Election. Throughout his book “Big League City”, current OKC Mayor David Holt often states how Cornett is largely responsible for setting Holt on his current political path, with Holt’s mayorship acting more like an extension of Cornett’s term than one of individual convictions.
With Sherrill’s close ties with Cornett, coupled with his praising of Mayor Holt’s handling of COVID, a vote for Sherrill will be a vote for Mayor Holt and everything he stands for. In a ward that has seen the fiercest pushback against Holt’s tyrannical polices, such a stance has placed Sherrill’s candidacy in dire straights with the voting public.
Varnell’s campaign has been shrouded in secrecy from the very beginning. Labeling himself as “the only 5-star candidate”, without any explanation of how he gained such a moniker, Varnell has been evasive as to his reasons for running.
In an interview with Ignite Liberty, Varnell stated that he chose to run after a number of “high profile Republicans” in city government asked him to run. Yet when questioned if he was able to name those Republicans, Varnell’s response was, “I can’t because they asked me not to.”
When Ignite Liberty reached out to sources high up inside OKC city government to ascertain whether any high ranking Republicans had asked any candidates to run, the only such request was that of Cornett to Sherrill. There were no known requests from anyone that Varnell run. This, of course, does not mean that the claim was fabricated. It does, however, raise questions as to the secrecy.
In a crowded race such as this, one would think a candidate would be proud to list any and all endorsements they received. According to Varnell’s website and Facebook, there are no current endorsements from any current or former political candidate. In fact, the one early endorsement Varnell had from Robert and Carol Hefner was quickly pulled. The Hefners have since endorsed Bradley Carter.
Additionally, Varnell’s campaign has already run afoul of city regulations for campaign signs by placing numerous signs clearly within the city’s right of way. While this may seem like a small infraction, Varnell’s position on the Traffic and Transportation Committee leaves him little excuse, especially since the city’s website makes it clear that signs in the ROW are a clear traffic hazard.
The lack of transparency, questionable over-selling, and blatant violation of city regulations have drawn serious concerns among Ward 1 residents as to the leadership abilities of Varnell. City Council campaigns are among the smallest operations in the political sphere. The inability to run a transparent, well organized, and respectful campaign would present serious challenges to any candidate. For Varnell, a candidate that voiced glowing support for Mayor Holt’s handling of COVID, these kind of missteps show a complete disconnect with the citizens of the most conservative ward in the city.
The People’s Champion
Though not as polished a speaker as his main opponents, Bradley Carter has come across from the beginning of his campaign as an honest, open, and sincere businessman who cares deeply about the citizens of his ward – an affection which has proven to be mutual throughout his campaign. When asked in the NW OKC Chamber Forum for his reasons for running, Carter’s answer was simple: the people of Ward 1, his neighbors, came to him and asked him to run.
The facts have born this out, as Carter has landed early endorsements from the area’s conservative heavy hitters such as State House District 41 Representative Denise Crosswhite-Hader and her husband and Canadian County Commissioner Mark Hader; State House District 100 Representative Marilyn Stark; State House District 43 Representative Jay Steagall; long-time political heavyweights Robert and Carol Hefner; Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC); Paul Abner – Oklahoma Faith Leaders; and has received an “A” rating from OK2A. And for the sake of transparency, so has Bryan Armstrong – President of Ignite Liberty.
Carter has also run by far the cleanest campaign of any of the three major candidates, giving clear instructions to his volunteers and campaign staff for signs and campaign literature, and abjectly refusing to even slightly frame his opponents in a critical light (“I’m the only candidate in this campaign that…”).
With the current highly-charged political climate, and conservatives feeling deeply betrayed by the political establishment on all levels – and with President Trump having shown it was possible for an outsider to win their first race – it’s not hard to understand why the citizens of Ward 1 have embraced the Carter Campaign with open arms.
One Week Left
In a race as crowded as this one, and with a runoff being a near certainty, it is often the candidate that captures the heart of the voters that wins in the end. The overcrowded 2016 Republican Primaries proved this.
President Trump won the heart of the voters not because of polished political speeches, but by connecting with the American electorate on a very emotional and visceral level. He loved them, and they loved him back…fiercely. With only a week away from the primary, there is only one candidate in the Ward 1 race whose campaign has followed the same path as President Trump’s campaign, though less pugilistic.
That candidate is Bradley Carter.
Copyright, Ignite Liberty, 2021