Estela Hernandez said that the main reason she wants to be the next chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party is simple, she is doing the job now.
The election will be decided at a meeting of the Republican state committee on October 11th. Pam Pollard, Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women’s Club former Chair and Robert Hubbard. Pollard ran for state chair last April when Brogdon was elected.
“The reason that I can humbly ask for the state committee to vote for me is that I have hit the ground running,” Hernandez said. “I am already doing the work.”
Hernandez was elected vice chair six months ago. She said that when former Chairman Randy Brogdon announced his plan to resign in September, she knew she needed to step up to ensure the party’s work continued. Hernandez pointed out state committee rules allow for the vice chair to seek the top spot. She believes she’s ready.
“Immediately after (Brogdon) resigned I started doing what I needed to do for our party,” she said.
Hernandez said she’s continued branding the party and promoting its message around the state even as she decided to run for the chairman’s post. She said she would bring 13 years of business experience to the job and vowed to keep the party transparent and responsive to its members. At the same time she promised to unite factions that have formed and draw in the next generation of Republicans.
“I am ready to take our party into the next generation and engage the millennials without having to water down our message,” she said.
She said that she would accomplish that partly through effective delegation. She would find people who are good at what they do and let them work. That would leave her free for fundraising.
According to Hernandez, fundraising is the lifeblood of the state committee. She promised to take a businesslike and professional approach to the task. In the past, volunteers have been given a script and a list of telephone numbers. Having served on the boards of a number non-profits, Hernandez said she has learned the most effective methods of raising money. She promised to ensure that those tasked with raising money would be properly trained.
“There’s an art to fundraising. It takes the art of persuasion,” Hernandez said. “I’ve already started that within the party and I want to continue that work.”
In the course of doing that work, Hernandez said she would ensure the party remained transparent and followed the rules of the party and the laws of the state of Oklahoma. She vowed to listen to all sides on each issue facing the party keeping in mind that everyone has, or should have, the same goal.
“I am an effective listener and we must listen to everyone even if we don’t agree 100 percent. I want to listen to solutions,” she said.
At the same time, Hernandez said there is an issue she wants to be certain that she is heard on: Immigration. Specifically, she wanted to address claims that she supports amnesty for illegal immigrants. Hernandez said that she has supported, and still supports, a dialog on how to address the problems with U.S. immigration policy. However, she adamantly denied supporting amnesty.
“I have never supported illegal immigration nor will I,” Hernandez said. “I am not for amnesty in the manner that is being discussed.”
Ultimately, Hernandez said committee members should select her as chairman because she sees the position as more than a job or status symbol. She said she believes deeply in the values and principles of the Republican Party and wants to see them promoted and spread around Oklahoma and the United States.
“There are several things I bring to the table. I see this as a calling, it’s not about the position,” Hernandez said.