Longtime friends face off in Okla. speaker race

by SEAN MURPHY

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – The 72 Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives will meet behind closed doors on Monday and cast secret ballots to decide who will become the next speaker of the House, one of the most powerful positions in state government.

The two men running for the post – Reps. Jeff Hickman of Fairview and Mike Jackson of Enid – grew up less than 15 miles from one another in tiny Alfalfa County in northwest Oklahoma, and each refers to the other as a friend.

Hickman, 40, went to high school at Cherokee and was a few years ahead of the 35-year-old Jackson, who attended nearby Burlington, but they ran into each other frequently at FFA events, basketball games, and speech-and-debate competitions.

“I’ve known Rep. Jackson since we were both very young,” Hickman said. “His parents are constituents of mine. His grandmother is a constituent of mine. He’s been a friend for a long time.”

A third potential candidate, Rep. Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City, withdrew his name from consideration last week after acknowledging he didn’t have enough votes.

Read the complete story from the AP.