Newcomers vie for labor commissioner seat
Oklahoma is set to elect a new Commissioner of Labor on Tuesday, settling a three-way race.
The race features Republican State Rep. Leslie Osborn, Democrat Fred Dorrell and independent candidate Brandt Dismukes. All three are vying for the seat of incumbent Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston, who was appointed in 2015 and did not file this year as a candidate.
Osborn, 55, lives in Mustang and is a businesswoman in addition to being a state representative. She served as chair of the Appropriations and Budget Committee. Her campaign focuses on ending excessive regulations, reforming the tax code and supporting education.
Dorrell, 64, is from Broken Arrow, works for Spirit AeroSystems and teaches business courses as an adjunct professor at Tulsa Community College. His campaign centers on workplace safety, improving the living wage, and educational development and training.
When asked what qualifies them for the position, both Osborn and Dorrell touted their business experience.
“The experience of being a 22-year small business owner,” Osborn said. “A lot of what the labor department does is interface with smalland medium-size businesses.”
“I have an understanding of people, the workforce and, in addition, I’ve taught small business management, so I have a pretty broad base,” Dorrell said.
Osborn also said she worked with the labor department during her time as a state representative, another reason she feels confident she can handle the job.
“My 10 years in the legislature, I worked with this department a lot,” Osborn said. “I could hit the ground running.”
Osborn was able to raise significantly more funding for the campaign, pulling in $726,184.30 by the October 22 reporting deadline for the pre-general election report. Dorrell raised $20,251.50.
Dismukes, 64, an Oklahoma City resident, raised $1,561.
“I’ve been a working Oklahoman all my life, not a politician,” Dismukes said. “I believe Oklahomans are tired of the status quo and want new leaders, not politicians.”
The candidates are excited to get to work should they win the election.
“I feel like I have a good background and fit for this agency,” Osborn said. “I really respect what they do ... and I’m excited to dig in and do everything I can to work with businesses across the state to help them grow and stay in Oklahoma.”
“To me it’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican, it’s about what you’re going to do,” Dorrell said. “I’m running for the job I know how to do, not for a job I need to learn how to do.”
The race features Republican State Rep. Leslie Osborn, Democrat Fred Dorrell and independent candidate Brandt Dismukes. All three are vying for the seat of incumbent Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston.