Lt. Governor candidate, Matt Pinnell, makes Miami stop.
MIAMI - Matt Pinnell's demeanor is polite, professional and to the point, all assets in his campaign to be Oklahoma's next Lieutenant Governor. Pinnell made a campaign stop in Miami last week and toured the city with local Republican leaders.
The Republican candidate is devoted to conservative causes and principles and is running on a political platform of action with a campaign slogan of, “A Conservative who will fight for us.”
Pinnell is a graduate of Oral Roberts University and has served as the Oklahoma State GOP Chairman and as National State Party Director at the Republican National Committee helping elect a Republican majority to the U.S. Senate in 2014 and Donald Trump win the Presidential election in 2016.
Pinnell lives in Tulsa with his wife Lisa, and four young children. The couple's idea for a new baby product, the Binxy Baby, a shopping cart hammock for infants, became a successful homegrown international business.
Pinnell wants all Oklahoma children to have a bright future here in the state.
“I'm looking at these kids, our oldest is 12, youngest is two, they're in the public school system in Tulsa, and I want them to be able to grow up in a state that they're proud of, and on top of that, be able to have good schools, infrastructure, and health care” Pinnell said. “By prioritizing those core services in the state, so that hopefully when they graduate from high school they'll have an opportunity to go to a career tech, or vo-tech or higher education facility and then they'll find a job here in this state.”
Pinnell sees Oklahoma's budget shortfalls as a two-sided issue, he said, “In this state when we have the big debate - revenue problem versus a spending problem, it is both. We do need more revenue, which means we need to have a conversation as a state. We can't be so oil and gas dependent. I want to have oil and gas 365, 24/7, but we've got to diversify this economy.”
Improving Oklahoma's available workforce is a major priority for the candidate.
“We have a skills gap in this state. It's actually a pretty large skills gap. Because of that, there's a lot of jobs a lot of employers that would hire people tomorrow, but they don't have the skills that these employers need,” Pinnell said.
Pinnell believes his own personal experiences will help him to serve the state better.
"Workforce is a huge problem and so the Lt. Governor serves as a small business advocate on the Governor's cabinet. My wife and I are small business owners in the Tulsa area, so that's a big part of our campaign. I believe the Lt. Governor should be the connector between our 77 counties in helping diversify the economy and helping small business owners grow,” he said.
Citing Broken Arrow as an example of the success of small business diversification, Pinnell said, “Broken Arrow is the fourth largest city in the state now, and 20 years ago Broken Arrow was not the fourth largest city in the state. Their leaders said their goal was to hit a bunch of singles and doubles, you know, homegrown talent. Find those Broken Arrow boys and girls that would add a business idea or a local plumbing company that had two employees that turned to 10 or 20 over a couple years”
Pinnell said Broken Arrow's steadfast and tedious effort and help from state advocacy lent to the economic growth of the community.
“We have a big warehouse in Bixby, Oklahoma a couple of employees, we understand. Sometimes we have good days; sometimes we have bad days as far as sales go. That's a big reason why I'm running for Lt. Governor, because I see that we need a Lt. Governor that's going to be doing that moving forward in this state. Particularly in this environment, we lost 21,000 oil and gas jobs the last few years, and hopefully, we'll bring some of those back.”
With fluctuating oil prices per barrel, Pinnell sees the need for a change statewide.
“God forbid oil goes down to $10 or $15, so that's a big part, and small business growth across 77 counties, not just two, as sales tax dependent as we are as well,” he said. “I think Main Streets across the 77 counties is one of the biggest assets that we have from a tourism perspective, and the Lt. Governor constitutionally helps run the Tourism Department. It's a big deal. As I've said, tourism across Oklahoma is a gold mine, if you had a state that advertised it properly. If the Lt. Governor's the sales and marketing director for the state, then they should be selling all the tourism assets we have across the state.”
Pinnell vows to be actively involved in the promotion and branding of state tourism on a daily basis if elected.
“The other piece again from a small business advocacy perspective is making sure we put a plan together, myself, with the next governor of how we're going to diversify this economy and add jobs. That is something we're going to be laser-focused on.”
His push is to define the role of Lt. Governor to fulfill the seat's Constitutional duties.
“I would say the other big piece, when people are looking at what the Lt. Governor does constitutionally, is serve as the President of the State Senate," Pinnell said. "The reason I mention that is, a lot of what people think is it just means breaking tie-breaking votes, which yes, constitutionally that's what it is. The way I envision that position is, the next Governor is going to need a Lt. Governor to help navigate legislation through the process. What Pence is to Trump is the analogy.”
“I want the Governor to lean on the Lieutenant to say here are four or five things I want to get done this session, now Lieutenant go run the play,” Pinnell said. “That's the way I see it. I plan on being more hands-on, on the floor of the State Senate. I'm not the status quo. I'm currently not an elected official. I'm an outsider with an insider's perspective. I've heard it all and I've been in every state in the Country and uniquely qualified to serve in this role would be very accurate and that's the big reason why I'm going after it.”
Pinnell’s campaign can be followed on Facebook or at MattPinnell.com.
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.