Congressional Candidate John Olson Supports Energy
By DAVID JONES
Editor at Large
CITIZEN SOLDIER: Democratic congressional candidate John Olson, an attorney, also has served for the last 15 years as either an active member of the Army or a member of the Army Reserves. He rose through the ranks from E-1 to E-7 before becoming an officer and saw action in Afghanistan for nine months running combat patrols.
Editor’s note: This is the second Newspapers article featuring candidates for the Oklahoma First Congressional District seat. The September issue featured Republican Jim Bridenstine.
John Olson is a Democrat seeking to replace John Sullivan as Oklahoma’s First District (Tulsa and surrounding communities) representative to the United States Congress. It is a daunting challenge considering he is running in a heavily Republican area that is expected to swing heavily to presidential nominee Mitt Romney.
Olson, for the last 15 years as either an active member of the Army or a member of the Army Reserves, says he was driven to run for office when the debt-ceiling fight last year caused training and pay to be delayed for National Guard units across the country. A man who rose through the ranks from E-1 to E-7 before becoming an officer, Olson saw action in Afghanistan for nine months running combat patrols and doesn’t want to see the nation’s defense eviscerated. The state of the rest of the nation’s economy concerns him but he feels remedies are at hand.
“Take Social Security; there are some simple steps we can take to get it back into balance. First, you have to end the cap; people would pay the same on the last dollar they do on the first no matter how much they make. Second, limit the cost-of-living adjustments to inflation. Those two things will keep Social Security solvent into the next century.”
“In order to fix the budget and reduce the deficit we’re going to need a balanced approach of spending cuts and tax reform. It’s going to require investment.” Whatever action Congress takes to try to get the budget under control, Olson doesn’t look for a quick fix. “It took a long time to get here and it will take time to get out.”
When it comes to getting the country out of its economic problems, Olson looks to the energy industry. “I think that’s what’s going to lead us out of this recession followed by the housing industry. “I look for natural gas to be a major player in the recovery. Such a move would not only help America but Oklahoma and the first district. We need to emphasize renewable energy, and we desperately need a national policy that restores energy independence. We need to consolidate the laws on energy production so producers know what they are.”
Ask Olson if he considers himself a liberal, moderate or conservative, he simply answers, “I’m a hard-headed pragmatist.” He sees nothing wrong in compromising to fix problems. “The problem with the Tea Party is that they refuse to compromise. Compromise is simply knowing what your core beliefs and principles are and what your opponent’s belief and principles are and trying to find where there is common ground.”
He admits he hasn’t read through the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as Obamacare) but that doesn’t mean he’s against it. “In a free market,” he says, “if you can’t afford a Mercedes you don’t buy a Mercedes. In health care, if you can’t afford chemotherapy you die.” He doubts that the Affordable Care Act is something he can support in its entirety but isn’t in favor of simply repealing it. “It has a lot of good things in it; it should be improved, not simply scrapped.”
Olson admits he has already received one political surprise; the defeat in the Republican primary of incumbent Rep. John Sullivan by political newcomer Jim Bridenstine. “We spent a month preparing to battle Sullivan so I guess you could say we lost a month. Still, the dynamics of the race haven’t changed; this is going to be all about what is best for the first district of Oklahoma.”
Tulsans are about to be presented with an election in which little is known about either candidate but one in which Bridenstine, simply because he is a Republican in a Republican-leaning area, would seem the natural favorite. Olson doesn’t seem fazed by the task ahead. “I have a feeling I’m going to win. We’ve done polling that indicates I’m closer than any Democrat since James R. Jones. I have a significant amount of money for the campaign and I’ll be taking on Bridenstine in a series of joint appearances so the public can judge us.”
One individual who concurs in his optimism is former Rep. Jones, who plans an October trip to Tulsa to support Olson. Jones is no stranger to defying the odds. In 1972, two years after an unsuccessful attempt to defeat incumbent Page Belcher Jones, a Democrat, Jones was elected to Congress over a well-respected former Tulsa Mayor Jim Hewgley. On the same day he was elected in the first district, Republican Richard Nixon carried over 80 percent of the district’s vote in the presidential race against Democrat George McGovern, and GOP’er Dewey Bartlett had an almost 2-1 margin in the U.S. Senate race against Ed Edmondson. Nevertheless Jones won the first of seven terms. Jones, now a private businessman after a stint as U.S. ambassador to Mexico, says he’s impressed with Olson. “I’ve only met him once face-to-face although we’ve talked on the phone several times. He’s got a lot of good credentials to recommend him. I think he’s got a political and economic philosophy in tune with the district.”