NORMAN — Cleveland County Republicans have a new leader. Dr. Harold Haralson began his term as county chairman this past week. He replaces Bobby Cleveland who will now focus his energy on being a freshman state representative.
A former emergency room physician, Dr. Haralson now practices from a Noble clinic. He served as Norman’s mayor from 2004 to 2007 and ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate in 2012.
Haralson grew up in Norman and knows the territory. He’s well suited to the lead the party, which seems to have more challenges on a national level than a state and local level.
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“I like to be involved in politics. I like to work on getting improvements in the way things happen,” said Haralson, a lifelong Republican who cast his first vote at age 18 for Richard Nixon.
He wants to update the county GOP’s Website and is beginning to work on county precinct meetings and the county convention in March.
Registered Republicans outnumber Democrats in the county. Election board stats show 71,160 Republicans and 57,153 Democrats. Republicans hold all but one office at the courthouse and outnumber Democrats in the state legislative delegation 6 to 2. Statewide, there are no Democrats in the federal delegation.
The big growth, however, is in registered independents. At one time, there were only a few thousand independents in Cleveland County. Today, there are 21,405. Unlike other states, Oklahoma locks them out of partisan primary elections.
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Dr. Haralson won’t likely be in attendance but local Democrats will be hosting their own inaugural ball Jan. 21 at the Holiday Inn in Norman.
My former student newspaper colleague Byron “Spike” Jackson will be the DJ. Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for students and free for active duty military. The group’s weekly Cornbread and Beans Luncheon will begin again in February.