Republicans Participate In Debate For Eastern Oklahoma Congressional Seat


Tuesday, June 21st 2022, 8:19 pm


BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -

Of the 14 Republicans hoping to represent Oklahoma's second congressional district, 10 showed up to debate in Bartlesville on Monday night.

News On 6, in partnership with Non Doc, a nonprofit journalism website, hosted a GOP primary debate.

The 10 candidates had a wide range of experiences and backgrounds. Several are current or former state representatives.

"This race comes down to resumes,” said candidate Dustin Roberts, a state rep. “Resumes matter."

"I can make that tough decision,” said candidate Marty Quinn, a state senator from district two. “And you know why? Because I believe in you."

A few are businessmen, one is a police chief, and two are pharmacists.

"As a pharmacist and a pharmacy owner,” said Chris Schiller. “I have seen what big Pharma and big insurance has done to our healthcare system."

Five are tribal members, with two currently in tribal leadership. That association with the tribes was a big topic during the debate.

"McGirt has been catastrophic for that one particular county," said David Derby, a former state rep, referencing his conversations with law enforcement in Stigler.

Congressional District 2 covers most of eastern Oklahoma, the area most impacted by the Supreme Court's ruling on tribal jurisdiction.

Nearly all of the candidates talked about challenges facing their communities after the McGirt ruling.

"We have victims who aren't being taken care of," said Johnny Teehee, the police chief in Muskogee.

"They have got to get in a room and solve this out,” said Clint Johnson from Tahlequah.

"Right now this McGirt decision is almost kind of like a bad divorce,” said Avery Frix, a current state rep. “The only people winning in this is the attorneys."

"We do have the rogue agenda’d administration over at Cherokee Nation,” said Wes Nofire, a former boxer and member of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. “We call them the problem child. They don't want to sit down because they're in two-step with Joe Biden and his administration."

Former GOP Chair and state rep John Bennett took it a step further calling for Congress to disestablish some tribes.

“Yes, I did say we need to disestablish the Muscogee (Creek) Nation,” said John Bennett, the former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. “All that would simply do is set us back to the day prior to the Supreme Court making the ruling they did that created this whole mess in the first place."

That statement drew some pushback.

"Under article 6 of the United States constitution that is the supreme law of the land,” said Guy Barker, a businessman and head financial officer for the Quapaw Nation. “These need to be recognized. These are sovereign rights."

When asked if anybody else agreed with Bennett's position, nobody else raised their hand.

Click here to watch the full debate.