Six Republicans want a chance to be the party’s nominee for Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District. The seat is being vacated by Congressman James Lankford who is running for the U.S. Senate. Fox 25 sat down with all six candidates as they head into the June primary.
The order of the candidate profile stories was randomly selected.
“The easy thing for me would be to stay here with my kids,” Jolley told Fox 25, “I’m worried about their economic future and their prosperity. I could either keep griping about it or I could go do something about it and that’s what I’m doing.”
Senator Jolley was first elected to represent his district in the Oklahoma Senate in 2004. He currently serves as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Jolley says that position sets him apart from the other congressional candidates.
“Balancing a budget; I've actually done that. Cutting taxes; I've actually done that. Eliminating waste, fraud and abuse; I've actually done that,” Jolley said, “I'm the only candidate in this race that has a proven track record of doing all those things that right now Washington desperately needs.”
Jolley’s time in the senate was not without its controversial votes. Jolley originally supported and voted for a bill that led to the adoption of “Common Core” standards in Oklahoma. He says the wording that created “Common Core” in Oklahoma was included in a larger educational reform packaged that included pay raises for teachers.
“Every Republican in the state including Steve Russell, myself, Randy Brogdon, T.W. Shannon…every state legislator with the exception of Sally Kern, voted to adopt the new standards.”
Repealing “Common Core” became a rallying cry for many Republicans and this year Jolley voted in favor of the bill the Governor recently signed to do just that. “They weren't controversial at that time because the Obama administration hadn't come in and started telling the states ‘you've got to start doing it this way, you've got start writing it this way or you've got to do it this way or we're not going to give you money.’”
Jolley says the experience with “Common Core” was one of many he saw during his time in the legislature that he refers to as an overreach of the federal government. “We've seen an ever increasing growth of federal bureaucracy the next congressman has to fight against that.”
Jolley says while the problems facing the country are big, he believes one member of congress from Oklahoma can make a difference.
“There's no question that one person can make a difference, but I know that if I don't try to make a difference,” Jolley said, “I will never be successful in making a difference for my kids...if I just sit on the sidelines and just gripe about it.”
Ultimately Republican voters will have the final say if Jolley is the GOP choice to head to the November ballot. Jolley faces five other challengers in the June 24th current Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, State Representative Mike Turner, Harvey Sparks, former State Senator Steve Russell, and former Representative Shane Jett.