Sunday, April 21, 2024

Oklahoma official with white nationalist ties is ousted in recall vote

by gemnews
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ENID, Okla. — Voters in Enid decided by a nearly 20-point margin Tuesday to remove a City Council member over his ties to white nationalist groups. 

Judd Blevins lost his seat on Enid’s six-member City Council by 268 votes, according to unofficial results from the Oklahoma State Election Board. Nearly 1,400 people turned out, about a quarter of Ward 1’s registered voters and hundreds more than voted when Blevins was first elected last year.

Blevins will be replaced by Cheryl Patterson, a former teacher and longtime Republican who campaigned on a return to “normalcy” for this small city nearly 100 miles north of Oklahoma City, which was divided by the furor over Blevins.

Candidate Cheryl Patterson poses for a portrait
Cheryl Patterson said she hoped the results would show that Enid residents stood against white nationalism.Michael Noble Jr. for NBC News

“We won,” said Connie Vickers, a Democrat in conservative Enid, who was among the first to publicly confront Blevins over his white nationalist ties. “Blevins lost. Hate lost.” 

Blevins faced the recall vote after local activists learned that he had marched alongside neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and led an Oklahoma chapter of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa. 

Blevins has denied that he has ever been a white supremacist, but at a candidate forum last week he defended marching in Charlottesville and said his activism was motivated by “the same issues that got Donald Trump elected in 2016.” 

Blevins had his supporters in Enid. A woman who campaigned for him said she liked what she saw from him over the last year. Another outside a polling station Tuesday said he knew Blevins personally. 

“He’s a really good guy,” Tim McDonald said. “He deserves a second chance.” 

Spotted holding a sign on a corner near his polling place, Blevins said he thought voters would rally to save his seat. “I’m pretty confident I’ll come out on top,” he said. “And if not, I fought the good fight.” 

Blevins said that if he lost, he had no plans to run again. “I just go back to private life,” he said. “Life goes on.” 

Blevins said in a statement Tuesday evening that the race had been “a trial not just for me, but for many in this community.” He added: “I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”

The results reported Tuesday night are unofficial until they are certified by the Garfield County government, which is expected to happen as soon as Friday.

Earlier in the day, Patterson and a group of supporters held her campaign signs on a busy corner. Patterson said she felt good, aside from the frigid temperatures. 

“I think the citizens of Enid know who I am, because I’ve been here for 40 years and been really involved in the community.” 

She said she was looking forward to “a resounding message that Enid is a great place to be.” 

She added: “Enid is not a town that promotes white nationalism or white supremacy in any way. And the people are good. And I’m hoping that the results of the election will show that.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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