Oklahoma Watch will update this profile throughout the campaign.
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Why he’s running
Rex Lawhorn, who over decades switched from Democrat to Republican to Libertarian, is billed on his campaign website as a “change agent, ready to stabilize Oklahoma’s economy and to drag the education system into the 21st Century.” Lawhorn emphasizes individual civil rights and efficient government. He says that policies of Democrats and Republicans have “dragged us down to the bottom of the pit,” with an economy, education system and state infrastructure “in shambles.” He calls for returning to core values and original functions of government, avoiding taxes and prioritizing education, which drives the economy. “Join him on the journey to a freer Oklahoma and a freer America,” his website says.
Lawhorn’s disillusionment with the two major political parties – a long-standing message of Libertarians – could strike a chord with voters more than in the past. He seeks common ground with small-government conservatives, civil liberties-minded progressives and others who feel the parties have lost their way and sold out to corporate or tax-and-spend interests. Lawhorn has said he needs three things to win: people’s time and voice as volunteers; more voters re-registering as Libertarians; and small donations totaling at least $400,000. He said he is more “radical” in adhering to Libertarian ideas than his runoff opponent, Chris Powell.
Where he lives: Broken Arrow
Family status: Single
Education: Attended Missouri State University; did not get a degree.
Occupation: Manager, Whole Auto Paints of Tulsa. He has worked in telecommunications, energy and aerospace industries, in technical and manufacturing jobs, including as a technician, machinist, and in quality control. Previous employers: AT&T, Our America Initiative, West Corp.
Military: U.S. Air Force, 1991-92, serving, among other places, in Germany, Japan and the Philippines.
Family history: Lawhorn grew up in Parsons, Kansas. Seven generations of his family have lived in Oklahoma. His father was a police judge and county attorney.
Where to learn more
Facebook campaign page
Facebook personal page
Stances on issues
Lawhorn stresses that “education is the foundation of everything that happens in the state.” Last year, he said he identified $400 million that could be saved in education. He favors school district consolidation without closing schools, more teaching positions in higher education and increased emphasis on trade classes and freedom for alternative education programs.
Lawhorn supports equal taxes across all industries. He would do away with tax incentives and doesn’t support tax increases on goods and services that are essential for living.
Lawhorn promises to release every prisoner whose crime did not involve a victim. He wants to eliminate civil asset forfeiture in all cases without a conviction. He supports marijuana legalization.
Lawhorn would eliminate oil and wind subsidies. He would do away with “corporate sponsorship of state government” and would eliminate tax incentives and deductions.
Health and social welfare
Lawhorn supports reducing restrictions on selling insurance across state lines and auditing SoonerCare. He supports Medicaid expansion. He is pro-choice.
What do you like and dislike in terms of funding government?
(University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma)
The two established parties are out of sync with Oklahoma voters and the guarantee of individual liberty. Lawhorn would return government to its limited core functions and serve as a check on a Legislature that has grown government and hindered people’s freedom.
Lawhorn’s policies are too extreme for most Oklahomans, who aren’t ready for a wholesale abandonment of what government provides.
He was Oklahoma state director of the Our America Initiative, an organization tied to former Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson.
Key political moments
This is the first time Lawhorn has run for office. In 2012, he led a group, the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party, that sued to expand ballot access for third parties.
(Jan. 1, 2017-June 11, 2018)
Richard Castaldo, Grove: $490
David Nule, Perry: $305
Luke Whittall, McAlester: $100
Number of individual donors giving maximum $2,700 per election: 0.
Independent expenditure groups: None.
Born a Baptist, Lawhorn now attends the First United Methodist Church in Broken Arrow. Lawhorn says he is a strict believer in the separation of church and state, and that his faith would influence him only to be a better governor.
“I am a Libertarian because of my Christian faith, and I believe that Jesus’ example was to teach us to live our own society, to render under Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s,” he said. “My policy decisions are affected by my Christianity in the fact that I want to enable and empower people to live their lives as they see fit.”
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