By DAVID JONES
Editor at Large
IN FOCUS: All eyes are on Independent candidate Craig Allen, right, as Oral Roberts University hosted a non-partisan District 1 Congressional debate, Oct. 2. From left are KOTV’s Scott Thompson and Terry Hood, Democrat John Olson, Republican Jim Bridenstine and Allen. The debate was held in Studio One at the Mabee Center. The Congressional debate was streamed live to www.Newson6.com. Those wishing to view the debate can do so at kgeb.gebamerica.com/debate-1st-congressional-district-of-oklahoma.
GTR Newspapers photo
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a three-part series in all six Greater Tulsa Reporter Newspapers featuring candidates for the Oklahoma Congressional District 1 seat. The September issues featured Republican Jim Bridenstine, and the October issues featured Democrat John Olson.
On the face of it, Craig Allen would seem to be dreaming the impossible dream. Running as an independent against Republican Jim Bridenstine and Democrat John Olson to replace John Sullivan as the First District Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, Allen would be swimming against the tide of history; no independent has ever come close.
Ask Allen how he assesses his chances and he says, “I think people are tired of buying candidates. People are shoveling money into the Bridenstine and Olson campaigns and will expect a return if their candidate wins. This is what politics has become and the voters don’t like it. I think my chances are very good.”
Allen points to the fact that the Independent candidate against Sullivan in 2010 got almost a quarter of the vote as evidence that people are open minded about a third candidacy. In 2010, however, Sullivan didn’t have a Democratic challenger so anyone wanting to vote against him had to vote Independent.
Candidates running as Independents can range from the ultra-left to the extreme right wing of the political spectrum. How does Allen see himself? “I’m an independent-conservative. I owe nothing to either party and am free to work for the people. I’m not taking any outside money so am not beholden to anyone. I have put about $800 into my campaign to buy business cards and put up a website. I am trying to introduce myself through the media.”
Raised on a farm in Illinois, the 54-year-old Allen has spent his adult life in Oklahoma working as an airline pilot. He is still fully at work, making an appearance at all his job obligations and campaigning on the time he has off.
He thinks the government has grown entirely too large. “You work from January to July just to pay your taxes; anything after that you’re allowed to keep and I’ve never seen anyone fired in Washington for wasting tax dollars. Right now Congress has a hand in just about everything you do in life,” he says.
His Illinois farm, which he still owns, grows corn and he is a total opponent of ethanol. “I lost my entire crop this year because of the drought. The same happened to other farmers and the corn harvest is way down and still we’re putting it into gas tanks rather than feeding people, and that’s stupid.
“I’m not against green energy but I think we have to maximize the tried-and-true technology we have. We have an abundance of natural gas and coal, and we should be pushing the use of them. As far as green technology is concerned, I think we should invest in it but slowly, finding out which ideas work and expanding on them. We shouldn’t be going ‘all-in’ on unproven ideas right off the bat.”
The way Congress makes laws has Allen concerned. “We shouldn’t have a 2,800-page health law introduced that gives lawmakers just three days to read and understand it, and then is rushed to a vote. I doubt many people know exactly what’s in the bill. Every doctor I’ve talked to says it’s a disaster.
“Our income tax has become entirely too complex. The only thing that should come out of your paycheck is Social Security and Medicare. I’d like to see us get rid of the income tax altogether and go to a consumption tax. Right now a lot of people, by working the system, pay little or no income tax. A consumption tax would give everyone a stake in the system and if people decided not to spend their money, they, and not the government, would be allowed to keep it.
“A major function of government is to keep Americans safe, and I’m concerned about major cuts being proposed to our military budget. I am in favor of reviewing military expenditures line by line but not slashing them. There are areas where the costs seem to have gotten out of whack; do we really need over 800 generals? But the combat troops need to be funded fully. We are way too overcommitted overseas; we need to bring almost all our troops home. We need to leave some troops in hot spots, but if a problem does occur overseas, we can have boots on the ground in hours. We need to take a look at that.”
Those are some of the views of Craig Allen, candidate for Congress. You won’t find his name on yard signs or billboards, but he hopes you’ll visit his website. No Independent has ever represented the First District of Oklahoma in the U.S. Congress. This year Craig Allen hopes to make history.