OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Republican Party’s national committeeman skipped this week’s GOP convention in Tampa, Fla., and said Tuesday he plans to resign from the party and register as an independent.
National Committeeman James Dunn told The Associated Press he was upset with the nation’s two-party system and “totally disagrees” with much of the GOP’s state and national platforms.
“I don’t like the Republican Party any more than the Democratic Party. It’s come to the point with me that I think both parties have left the public,” Dunn told the AP in an exclusive interview. “I think they’re not looking out for the best interests of the public. They’re looking out for the best interest of the wealthy and the lobbyists.”
His absence from the Republican National Convention was noticed during a roll call Tuesday, when Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin announced votes from 40 of the state’s 43 delegates. Two Ron Paul supporters who refused to vote for presidential nominee Mitt Romney, despite being obligated to do so, had their votes voided.
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell said he was not aware of Dunn’s plans to skip the convention.
“I tried to reach him (about picking up his convention credentials),” Pinnell told the AP. “He didn’t return a text message.”
Dunn, 51, an Oklahoma City attorney and a lifelong Republican, was elected to a four-year term as the state’s national committeeman in 2008. He didn’t seek re-election to the post at this year’s state convention.
Dunn, a Paul supporter, said he’s particularly troubled with the Republican Party’s push to overhaul Oklahoma’s civil justice system, commonly referred to as tort reform, to limit the amount that injured people can receive in damages.
“It’s just wrong what they’re doing,” Dunn said. “A jury should decide what people’s damages are.”
He said he’s also against the GOP’s position to oppose any form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.
“Throwing these people out is not the answer, and we know it’s not going to work,” Dunn said. “I don’t want illegal criminals and drug dealers — no one wants that. But what about these people who have families and established lives in our country?”
Dunn said he hopes to push to open the state’s current closed primary system to allow independents to vote in primaries and encourage more voter participation in elections.
“Everybody is tired of the political partisanship fighting,” Dunn said. “I think what we’ve got to do is stand up for voters and voter rights. Maybe the politicians would stop worrying about what the party says and do what’s right for the state.”
Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy