Democratic Representative Mickey Dollens won his race against Republican Mike Christian with over 57% of the vote in southside HD-93. This will be Dollens’ third time in office.
His main plans going forward are tackling pandemic-related issues and keeping Republican lawmakers in check.
“Even though we have historically the lowest amount of Democrats in the house this year—[19 members]—we’re pretty confident that we’re going to be a strong and vocal minority party,” the representative said. “Our number one goal is to hold the majority accountable and make sure that they don’t break their own rules.”
Free Press interviewed Dollens over the phone less than two weeks after his victory.
He gave us a look into what the plan is for the small group of Democrats in Oklahoma’s House of Representatives and what the party needs to accomplish to gain more seats in 2022.
You can find a summary of his race against Mike Christian by clicking here, which also includes a rundown of his policies and record as a legislator.
Functioning During the Pandemic
Overall, the preliminary stages of the upcoming legislative session were shaky as two house members at the swearing in ceremony last week tested positive for COVID-19.
“The state failed to protect those in attendance at this required event: no temperature checks, no hand sanitizer, minimal social distancing, and the most frustrating – no mask mandate,” Dollens posted on Facebook.
This is in light of Governor Stitt refusing to implement a state-wide mask mandate, leaving it up to cities to make that call.
“[Governor Stitt] preaches personal responsibility, however, as we saw at the swearing ceremony last week, even members of his own party are refusing to wear a mask,” Dollens said.
Ground game interrupted
The representative had just finished a webinar retreat with his Democratic colleagues when he spoke with Free Press.
He believes that the pandemic contributed to the decrease in Democratic house members because it didn’t allow candidates to have face-to-face interactions with voters, which is crucial for newcomers.
Dollens believes the reason he was able to win by such a large margin despite the pandemic was because he had conducted a door-knocking campaign in 2016, which made him well-known throughout the community.
He told Free Press that he even goes to the extent of sending his constituents birthday cards and sharing his personal cell phone number in order to maintain a close community relationship.
Dollens explained that during his campaign there were thousands of dollars spent in ads against him.
This is, after all, the normally rough-and-tumble political environment of the south side of Oklahoma City where the infamous former Republican Senator Ralph Shorty ran a hard-hitting attack machine before he was jailed for having sex with minors.
But this campaign was more extreme than in the past.
“What was extremely concerning was how much money Republican PACs [spent on] my race,” he said. “In the last month, it was over $100,000, and just one of those ad buys was $20,000 in radio ads against me.”
One mailer that he shared with Free Press shows the representative posing next to a police car on fire with text saying “Dollens works for the far left, not south OKC.”
“A lot of people are getting their information in a bubble and that’s nothing new, but that’s something that Democrats haven’t learned to break through,” he said. “And I found that the best way to combat that for each [candidate] is to get out on the doors and meet people face-to-face.”
He believes that one of the reasons so much money was spent against him was because infamous Republican strategist and Trump-loyalist Roger Stone openly supported his opponent.
Dollens said that he still plans to keep pandemic-related issues like fixing unemployment services and advocating for a state-wide mask mandate at the forefront of his work.
However, being in the minority in the house and senate for Dollens means that his work as a Democratic representative will be more focused on keeping the other party in check.
“I think that our best assets that [Democrats] can bring to this session is to call out corruption when we see it, to hold the majority accountable and to make sure that the legislature is as transparent as possible,” he explained.
Once the pandemic is more under control, he plans to implement more apprenticeship programs in the state and help small businesses in Oklahoma get back on their feet by passing laws that would protect them from any predatory loans.
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Note: The feature photo is a prep-pandemic file photo. Dollens wears a mask now in public and encourages others to do the same.