The Sanders Campaign: New office coming to Lawton
By Payton Williams
On Sept. 22, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made two campaign stops in Oklahoma, one in Norman, and one in Lawton at the 28th Annual Comanche Nation Powwow.
At the rally at Reaves Park in Norman, Oklahoma Coordinator for the Sanders campaign Josh Vinslaw
spoke before Sanders and made an announcement.
“We are going to be in Lawton,” Vinslaw said.
As it turns out, this announcement from the campaign referred to more than making a brief stop at the
Comanche Nation Powwow.
The Sanders campaign is currently planning to have a campaign office in Lawton, Oklahoma, which will function as a headquarters for volunteers to organize, canvass for the candidate and plan campaign events.
This announcement comes at a time of increased Democratic Party activity and general engagement in Lawton and the greater Comanche County area.
According to Kaysa Williams, campaign manager for local Democratic candidate Kyle Meraz, this influx of energy for the local Democratic part is largely a reaction to the 2016 election of President Donald Trump.
“In my opinion, last election cycle, we saw a lot of people who were disassociating from politics,” Williams said. “And now it feels like both sides are so comfortable in where they are, and they’re so passionate about the fight that they’re fighting, and we’re seeing a lot more young people who are actually wanting to have real political conversations.”
Whether or not Trump is the driving factor for the strength of Democratic organization in the state this election cycle, Sanders’ Oklahoma campaign officials are confident in saying that volunteer numbers have been strong for the Sanders campaign in Oklahoma, specifically.
Oklahoma Political Director for the Sanders campaign Jess Mazour spoke about the particular fervor Oklahomans have shown for Sanders.
“We get a lot of people who aren’t officially involved with any of our offices volunteering time to support the campaign by themselves,” Mazour said.
One possible reason for Oklahoman interest in the Sanders campaign may be the amount of official activity the campaign has in Oklahoma as a whole, and in more rural parts of the state, such as Lawton in particular.
As of the writing of this article, and according to the Comanche County Democratic Party, the Sanders campaign is the only national campaign for the presidency, Republican or Democrat, to put forth an effort to establish a headquarters in Oklahoma outside of the Tulsa or Oklahoma City areas.
A Sanders campaign office in Lawton would mark the second such rural office in Oklahoma, with another established office in Stillwater, Oklahoma, affiliated largely with the Oklahoma State University campus.
Apart from established offices, the campaign also has many volunteer events scheduled for several parts of Oklahoma rarely touched upon by national campaigns, including a workshop in Elgin and an organizing event in Ponca City.
The new campaign office is not the only thing the Sanders campaign has planned for Lawton in the immediate future.
The campaign is holding a planned organizing meeting at 6:30 p.m., on Dec. 3, at the Lawton Public Library.
Vinslaw and other state organizers will attend the meeting.
It should be noted that in the 2016 presidential election cycle, Sanders won the Oklahoma Democratic Primary by a substantial margin.
Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in every county in the state for the Democratic presidential nomination.
This fact is an indicator of Oklahoma Democrats’ support of Sanders and is likely a big reason for increased campaign involvement in Oklahoma this election cycle.
Sanders has also made agriculture, and challenging current agricultural business standards, a stated priority of his 2020 campaign, an issue that is very important in Oklahoma.
“One in six American children still live in food-insecure homes,” The Official Bernie Sanders campaign website said. “Industrial agriculture has taken a toll on the environment, and our rural communities have been left in a chronic state of economic decline and decay.”
If Bernie Sanders plans to make rural poverty, food insecurity and the environmental impact of Agribusiness central issues for his campaign, being a very visible candidate in the state of Oklahoma might be his way of showing his seriousness on that issue.
Sanders has also expressed interest in Native American causes, and, as Lawton is a center for several Native American tribes, it helps establish his seriousness on those issues as well.
For more information on the Bernie Sanders campaign in Lawton, and the Democratic Party in the Lawton area in general, contact the Comanche County Democrats office directly at (580) 699-7010.