NORMAN — It’s been quite a horse race, but then open seats in the state legislature often are. For the past 12 years, State Senate District 15, which includes much of Norman, has been represented by Jonanthan Nichols, R-Norman. But Nichols has term-limited out and with the seat up for grabs, candidates seemed to be coming out of the woodwork to run for the position.
All five of the candidates who filed to run for the office were from Norman. Four of the five are Republicans.
For Rob Standridge, it’s been a long battle. The original vote included Bob Neidhart, Jack Beller and Harold Harolson. Standridge won in the primary, but not by the required majority to avoid a run-off. In August, he took on the second runner up for the Republican bid, Dr. Jack Beller.
For Claudia Griffith, it’s been a long wait. Griffith was the lone Democrat to file and she has been quietly waiting in the wings to challenge the GOP nominee.
Now the campaign trail includes candidate forums, posting signs, answering calls and mostly, going door-to-door, meeting the people of the district.
State races don’t carry the same level of media blitz as a presidential election and while Griffith and Standridge have worn out shoe leather, the nation continues to argue politics in an increasingly hostile environment. It’s not just that the pendulum has swung again and voters are leaning to the right, voting mostly Republican. It’s that voters are just plain mad, fed up, sick of politics and a struggling economy and a growing deficit.
State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said earlier this month that of 68,000 new voters registering in Oklahoma this year, more than two-thirds have registered Republican. Since Jan. 1. Oklahoma Republicans have added 45,094 voters, while Democrats have added just 6,940 voters.
The numbers of those registering as Independents are growing also.
“We have a total of 146,150 registered voters,” Cleveland County Election Board Secretary Jim Williams said a couple of weeks before the registration deadline. “Of those, 69,778 are Republicans, 56,009 are Democrats and we have 20,363 Independents.”
Griffith and Standridge aren’t letting those numbers affect their outlooks. Griffith knows Oklahoma has become a Democrat hostile environment. Standridge is taking nothing for granted and has said he will work as if he were running behind.
What both candidates know is that Senate District 15 contains portions of core Norman and the university. Those votes could go either way.
State Senate 15 includes voter precincts 3, 12, 13, 25, 26, 27, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 45, 49, 53, 55, 63,64, 65, 71, 73, 74, 76, 77, 78, 87, 91, 94, and 95.
Democrat Claudia Griffith
Claudia Griffith is a lifelong Oklahoman with deep roots in our communities. Griffith has been married to her husband Jim, a dentist and city councilman in Norman, for 40 years. They raised their family in Norman and continue to call it home. Griffith is a Registered Nurse with a Masters in Public Health from the University of Oklahoma. She worked in an array of medical positions including neurosurgical units and was Norman Regional Hospital’s first full time Patient Education Coordinator. Griffith also worked at Cleveland County Health department and was a program consultant at Oklahoma University Health promotions, working with Native American tribes all over the United States on health issues.
She believes her lifetime of experience gives her the ability to communicate effectively and efficiently the issues of health care, jobs and the economy to voter’s and community leaders.
Griffith and her husband are active parents and community leaders. As PTA president at Jefferson Elementary, Longfellow Middle School and Norman North High, she was active in the Boy Scouts of America and the Center for Children and Families. She currently serves on the Board of Middle Earth Day Care, a non-profit early child center. Griffith’s children all have graduated or are attending the University of Oklahoma and continue to be active community members.
Both Claudia and Jim Griffith are members of the Norman Chamber of Commerce. She is determined to protect the middle class, encourage prosperity for business and jobs by providing better education, and build healthy communities. Griffith said she is an independent thinker who can work with leaders on the other side of the aisle.
Republican Rob Standridge
A lifelong entrepreneur, Rob Standridge began in grade school going door to door selling anything he could. By fifth grade, he was one of the top-selling Grit newspaper boys in the state. Standridge earned a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the University of Oklahoma. To help pay tuition, he operated a landscaping company.
Standridge married Lisa Idleman while working as a pharmacy intern at Noble Pharmacy. They also are business partners.
In 1995, Standridge obtained an SBA loan to purchase a pharmacy in Blanchard that was going out of business. A year later, he expanded the Blanchard pharmacy into one of the first interactive online pharmacies, Cyber Pharmacy, which later became Legend Care Pharmacy, specializing in the care and treatment of juveniles and the mentally disabled.
Standridge taught himself to write computer programs and produced pharmacy software, Compound Assist. He has written a number of programs including a complete pharmacy management system used throughout the country.
Most recently, Standridge started a technology and equipment company, Health Engineering Systems, marketing pharmacy products including a line of mixing equipment sold throughout North and South America.
Standridge is an active member of Crosspointe Church. He and Lisa have two daughters.
A former Boy Scout, Standridge is a member of several pharmacy organizations, the Blanchard and Norman Chambers, Sooner Centurion, a Rotarian, former Boy Scout, member of Toastmasters, member of several aviation organizations, founder of Business Leaders for Oklahoma, a member of various business leader clubs, speaks around the country on pharmacy and technology at various health conferences and meetings, and strives to give back to the communities to which he owes so much.