PARMLEY chosen state chairman

Sunday, May 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Delegates to the Oklahoma Democratic Party convention elected a 30-year-old Norman man as the party's new chairman.

Jay Parmley, president of the National Young Democrats of America, beat party secretary Jim Davis of Stillwater by 59 votes.

``I want registered Democrats in Oklahoma to feel good about their party,'' Parmley said. ``We've got a lot of work.''

After the election, Parmley and Davis spoke to the 700 delegates to assure them the election did not show a division in the party.

Officials were trying to avoid the chaos of two years ago when state Rep. Mike Mass, D-Hartshorne, was elected by one vote. To make their point, one of the delegates asked the group to approve a change in the vote to reflect a unanimous choice. Davis seconded the idea.

Parmley, now one of the youngest state chairmen in the country, said the party's main goals will be to spread their message, define their image instead of letting others do it for them and to win races in 2002.

Delegates also heard from three potential candidates _ former Gov. David Walters, businessman Vince Orza and former Lt. Gov. Jack Mildren.

Walters promised to give Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. a good fight for U.S. Senate in 2002, if he decides to run.

Walters said he expects his opponents to bring up past problems during the campaign, but said he wouldn't let that get in the way of his message.

While governor in 1993, Walters pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign contribution violation. He received a one-year deferred sentence.

Walters apologized for the problems and promised not to let it happen again.

Orza, a former Republican gubernatorial candidate, introduced himself to the party he joined in February.

``They couldn't have been nicer to me,'' Orza said.

He said it was an easy switch to Democrat since he believes 95 percent of Oklahomans agree with him on issues such as education and how to run the state financially.

Mildren, who could face Orza in a primary if the two decide to run for governor, said Republicans talk a lot about family values and improving education, but do very little, something he wants to change.

``This campaign is one where we're going to play offense. No more defense,'' Mildren said.