Money matters?

Financial underdogs claim victories in GOP runoff elections

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Yukon Progress, Yukon Review, HD41, HD43, Election

Story compiled by
News Editor Tim Farley and
staff writers Mindy Wood & Alyssa Sperrazza

It’s no secret that money can make or break political campaigns at any level, whether it’s at the city council level or the presidency of the United States.

After all, more money means more campaign signs, more television ads, more events hosted, and it usually means more support come election day.

But Denise Crosswhite Hader, a Republican candidate for House District 41, which includes Surrey Hills, pulled through with 52 percent of the total vote despite her opponent receiving significantly more money in contributions.

However, she wasn’t the only candidate to win despite having less money than the opponent. Yukon’s Jay Steagall was the victor in the GOP District 43 runoff despite collecting only $23,245. Steagall, a U.S. Air Force pilot who spent much of the primary election season in the Middle East, faced opponent Crystal Duncan who reported $36,735, but that included a $23,000 loan she made to her campaign on May 30.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission’s electronic reporting system showed Hader’s opponent, Roxanne Pollard, finished her campaign with an ending balance of $42,901.84.

This was a stark contrast to Hader’s $12,805.66. The latest campaign contribution report shows Pollard collected more than $136,000 for the entire campaign compared to $36,850 for Hader.

Hours before the polls closed on Aug. 28, Hader acknowledged that money is “very important” to any campaign.

“You use it to get help get your message out, but there’s also boots on the ground, volunteering and door knocking. Money isn’t the final say in an election, but it is a necessary evil,” she said. “You have to print material and get the signs out.”

Pollard said she didn’t solicit the money at any time although she acknowledged three fundraisers were held to benefit the campaign.

“I just had that many people who believed in me and wanted to help me,” she said. “I just had a lot of support through friends and people I met. Yes, it (money) helps to get the message out especially in those areas where I wasn’t known such as Canadian County and Oklahoma County. I needed to let them know where I stood and what I believe.”

In the latest contribution and expenditure report, Pollard showed $16,250 in contributions from political action committees. Some of the PAC money came from Affiliated Anesthesiologists ($5,000), the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber ($1,000), OK AG Fund ($1,000), OK Beef ($500), OKC Firefighters Association Fund ($1,000), Oklahoma Pork Council ($500), OK AG Fund ($1,000) and the Oklahoma Society of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons ($250).

Despite the big money contributions, Hader made her grassroots campaign work. Hader, who lives in Surrey Hills, said she couldn’t have pulled off the come-from-behind win without her family and volunteers who continue to run her campaign, and it all came down to going door-to-door, meeting and connecting with people over the issues that mattered to them.

“Communication is the best thing you can do with citizens,” Hader said. “I did hear a lot from the teachers… that they felt like they were not heard, not honored, and I sure don’t want that to be the case…. So we still have a lot to do.”

Crosswhite Hader still had a few PAC contributions, although that number was significantly less than Pollard’s. In fact, the number of individual contributors giving to Crosswhite Hader’s campaign was substantially less than Pollard’s.

Crosswhite Hader raised $3,000 from political action committees. On an individual basis, one of Crosswhite Hader’s contributors was Socrates Lazaridis, owner of Renaissance Architects, a company that conducts business with Canadian County. Crosswhite Hader’s husband, Marc Hader, is a county commissioner and has voted in the past to hire Renaissance Architects for various county projects. Lazaridis contributed $1,000 to Crosswhite Hader’s campaign on July 26, the campaign contribution report shows.

Campaign contributions aside, Hader, who works as a House staff member at the state Capitol and is a small business owner, said she understands the struggle of small business owners and will work to fight burdensome regulations if she’s elected in November.

“It’s not just taxes, it’s regulation… we mean well but sometimes you regulate so much that they can’t be as productive,” Hader said. “With any small business, they are the backbone of the economy. That’s what I really saw [campaigning], how many people are working more than one job, all because of the tax burden, but also because we’re a great state with a great work ethic.”

Should Hader defeat her Democratic opponent during the general election in November, she’ll be replacing incumbent John Enns who was term limited.

Pollard did not return telephone calls for comment on the election results.

The Democrat’s runoff for House District 41 showed a close race between Jennie Scott and Sara Peterson.

Scott pulled in 631 votes over Peterson’s 441. The winner’s ending balance for her campaign was significantly higher than her opponent’s. Scott had $1,074 to Peterson’s $285 in remaining funds.

Scott said she knocked a lot of doors but that it seemed to be good timing to be a teacher and a candidate.

On the Democratic side of District 41, neither candidate raised more than $7,000. Scott received $6,878 during the campaign, according to the most recent contribution report filed in August. Meanwhile, Peterson raised a meager $1,435 for the entire campaign as of Aug. 13.

“I have been pretty well supported. I think because of the teacher walkout I may have had a slight advantage being a teacher candidate and I have done a lot of door knocking. I think I was able to build trust. People want to know that future legislators will listen and care about the issues,” Scott said.

The Democrat is eyeing tax breaks for big businesses who she says may not be fully paying their way.

“I think there are several routes forward. My top two options are that I would be very open to restoring GPD to seven percent and we’d still be below most states and be competitive. The tax incentives were given I think to encourage the oil companies to come back (to Oklahoma). Now that’s it’s a stable economy, I think they’re here to stay.”

Scott said she wants to examine whether tax breaks have resulted in more jobs, higher pay and industry growth. If not, those breaks “need to be reexamined.”

She claims she is pro-business.

“I definitely want to see more business, but I want to review those businesses to see if we’re getting more bang for our buck. The report from the Oklahoma Tax Commission shows corporate taxes only make 2 percent of our revenue which means 98 percent is coming from sales tax, individual taxes. We need to tax where the money is,” she said.

It was a clean race for the two. The Yukon Progress spoke to Peterson after the results were in.

“We were both out there for the right reasons and we knew we had each other’s support,” she said. “I think she needs to have whoever voted for me and whoever voted on the Republican side that voted for education. I look forward to working with her as an ally and a supporter.”

Scott agreed.

“I have immense respect for Sara,” she said.