Why Mark is Running as an Independent

Mark is running for Congress as an Independent to allow our shared Oklahoma values to break through the current dysfunction of our two-party system. He’s sick and tired of watching a polarized Congress getting nothing productive done as economic disparities mount and our culture erodes.

Mark’s independent campaign is ultimately calling on Oklahomans' “better angels” to transcend partisan politics and focus on policies that honor and revive Heartland values, and elevate the economic interests of ordinary Americans.

If you’re like most Americans, you likely agree. Recent polling by the Bullfinch Group reveals that fully half of Americans think the Nation would be “better off if some congressional districts elected independent candidates not aligned with either the Republican or Democratic parties.”

Mark is no newcomer to political independence. In the 11 Presidential elections in which he’s voted, Mark has supported a major party candidate only three times; otherwise he’s backed third-party or independent campaigns. He’s volunteered for candidates of goodwill across the political spectrum, and he has significant experience establishing and managing independent campaigns and Political Action Committees. And wherever he’s lived, he has challenged the entrenched power of the local political Establishment - be it Democrat or Republican.

Historically, political independence has been “in the water” here in the Sooner State. Since Statehood and before, Oklahomans, including Mark’s ancestors, consistently charted an independent path through the cultural, economic and political issues of their day. And Mark is a proud heir of that Okie wisdom and contrarianism.

Yet in recent decades, we’ve allowed ourselves to get sucked into partisan tribalism, and have been voting more for party than person. In doing so we’ve been complicit in handing the reins of our economy and culture over to a “uni-party” elite of Republicans and Democrats whose allegiances are ultimately to global capital rather than American industry and community.

Since the 1980’s, Oklahomans have been distinctive as a vanguard of a more conservative ethos, leading some of the coastal elites to call us the “reddest of the red states”. That label fails to appreciate the political nuance and inherent populism of Oklahomans. The voting patterns that created that label have also led the Republican Party to “drink its own whiskey”, and take Oklahoma’s First Congressional District for granted as a predictable and malleable voting bloc. Ultimately though, being “predictable” and “taken for granted” leads to the interests of Oklahomans being “ignored” or “forgotten”.

By contrast, when a Congressperson is a true Independent, and refuses to swear allegiance to a political party, they become a “wild card” in a closely divided House of Representatives. Because an Independent’s vote is less susceptible to being “whipped” by party leadership, they are potentially in a position to leverage wins for their District that could never be leveraged by a party loyalist.

Mark believes that Oklahoma’s historical independence should demand independence in its contemporary legislators. Kevin Hern has failed to represent the essential independence of Oklahomans, and we have suffered dearly for it. He devotes the lion’s share of his energy trying to strengthen his party -- leading the Republican Study Committee -- rather than working for his politically diverse constituency back here in Oklahoma. And he has fallen prey to the same old DC game of partisan incumbency – taking his marching orders from party bosses and K Street lobbyists.

If you hadn’t noticed, our Nation is as fractured and polarized as it has been since the Civil War. And that chasm has opened largely along partisan political lines. If we are to survive as a civil society, we have to begin to search fervently for ways to span that divide so that an enduring healing can occur. We need courageous individuals to shun party labels, and spend their time, energy and political capital looking for ways to build bridges rather than digging deeper trenches. Mark is a natural and effective “bridge builder”; it’s something he’s been doing consistently over nearly 40 years of legal practice, community activism, and church governance. He looks forward to bringing that same courage and skill set to Congress.