MIAMI – Lt. Governor Todd Lamb wants a chance to renew Oklahoma. He is running as a Republican candidate for Governor of Oklahoma in the 2018 election.
Lamb was on his way to watch his son, a Cashion High School football player, in a playoff game against Afton two weeks ago, when he made a campaign visit in Miami and stopped for an interview.
An Enid native, Lamb is running as a proven conservative on a five-point platform focused on government reform, education, neighborhoods, economic growth, and work, or “RENEW.”
“I'm running for governor because I'm frustrated, very frustrated,” Lamb said. “I'm extremely frustrated as Lt. Governor, I’m concerned as a dad, I'm concerned as a citizen, my wife's a public schoolteacher so on a lot of levels I'm very frustrated, and as Lt. Governor I've had a front row seat to this mess.”
He compared his viewpoint to having a 50-yard line seat at the Bedlam football game.
“Whether you're wearing crimson or orange, at some point during that game, you got mad at your coach,” Lamb said. “ You want to know why he called that play, or why he's not calling a different play, and you have no headset. That's what it's like being Lt. Governor during this frustration. I'm running because I want to push back on the status quo and be a change agent for Oklahoma. My vision on the campaign trail and as the next governor is to renew Oklahoma.”
Lamb is a former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service and served as president of his class. His private sector experience includes work as a petroleum landman, and a telecommunications industry executive.
Lamb was elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 2004 and as Lt. Governor in 2010. He and his wife of 22 years, Monica, have two children, Griffin and Lauren.
His goal for government reform starts with the operations of the legislative process.
Lamb wants to make education a state priority by increasing the money spent in the classroom and giving Oklahoma teachers the pay increase he says they deserve.
“We as a state do not accept mediocrity when it comes to athletics…we don’t accept mediocrity in anything,” Lamb said. “That’s a status quo that must be rejected…our goal is to be the best and that’s why my goal is to renew Oklahoma.”
Safer, secure neighborhoods are another key goal of his platform whether rural or metro, Lamb feels Oklahoma communities must improve to become better places to raise families through better infrastructure, criminal justice reform, and improved health care.
“That’s the core structure of government,” Lamb said.
As part of his platform Lamb seeks to diversify the state's economy so Oklahomans are no longer at the mercy of fluctuations in the world's commodity markets.
“Any time the commodity price in oil and gas or agriculture have dipped that market impacts our revenue and our state budget, any time that has happened in state history you've heard state officials say, 'We must diversify our economy,' and then there's crickets. There’s never been a plan to do it. I've got a plan to do that in Oklahoma,” Lamb said.
“The greatest incentive for economic development is public policy because any company that can be lured to locate or expand in a state for economic incentive, that same company can be lured away,” Lamb said.
He points out the 2007 lawsuit reform, and 2013 workers compensation package passed in Oklahoma as examples.
“If Oklahoma was a business, the board of directors would want to fire somebody, and the shareholders would be livid at the product they received from the investment they made,” Lamb said.
Lamb said he had a very limited role in the capacity of Lt. Governor.
“Our budget is in a mess. Part of the mire we’re in is because we don’t have a plan in Oklahoma, or a backup plan," he said. “I’ve got a two-prong approach to reform it and fix it. The first part is process. Our legislative process does not work any longer. It’s very antiquated, and it’s out of date, and it’s so convoluted and complex most don’t understand it.”
The four-month legislative process begins with the Governor’s state of the budget address and not until one month later the Board of Equalization certifies how much money the legislature has to appropriate.
“So, for the first month of session it’s a scrimmage,” Lamb said.
The last three months of the session five or six legislators sit down and negotiate the state’s budget behind closed doors every year.
“The last three weeks the rest of the legislature is forced to vote on that negotiated budget. We do it every year, and nobody’s asked questions about it or says we need to change it. When I get elected governor – I talk about it everywhere I go – as governor, this will be my mandate for legislative reform; first-month policy only, after policy the Board of Equalization meets to certify the budget. Now we know how much we have to appropriate. The last three months - no policy, only budget. You go from five legislators in a room with the door closed, to 149 legislators having open hearings.”
Lamb believes this reform will bring accountability and transparency lacking in the state’s current legislative process.
With well over 1,000 pieces of legislature filed each year the process is bogged down in unnecessary bureaucracy according to Lamb.
“In my six years in the Senate, and my time as Lt. Governor, I don’t know what happens from the end of May to the end of January, an eight-month period, where we need as a state 1,000 pieces of correction every year,” he said.
Asked how he would answer voters who may say he was part of the regime in office.
“I’ve performed every responsibility as Lt. Governor, and there is no seat at the table for the budget on negotiation on pieces of legislation. That’s just the reality of what it is whether we’ve had a Democrat as Lt. Governor or Republican,” Lamb said. "And I’m not passing the buck on that. I’m a no-nonsense guy, and I’ve attempted to lead within my lane and to serve.”
Traveling to all 77 Oklahoma counties to listen to Oklahomans has been invaluable to the candidate. Lamb said he is a “rural guy,” and understands the challenges of and is engaged with rural Oklahoma communities.
“I learn a lot more going to Ottawa County and Craig or Delaware County than I learn remaining inside the capital,” he said. “There are challenges throughout the state, but those challenges are exacerbated in the corners of the state. If we’re going to have a thriving economy, we’ve got to have a thriving 77 county economy. That’s who I am, that’s my conviction.”
Lamb feels his experience at the capital has been eye-opening and gives him an edge ahead of other candidates.
“There’ll be no training wheels with me. I’ll hit the ground running,” he said. “I’m very anxious to get a lot of these reforms done.”
Melinda Stotts is the associate editor of the Miami News-Record. She can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @MelindaStotts1.