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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Republican leader has told party officials that he plans to resign and call for the election of a new chairman after a tumultuous five-month term in which he faced a barrage of criticism for hiring decisions and an offensive Facebook post on the party's official page.
Republican Party Vice Chair Estela Hernandez and several party activists confirmed Randy Brogdon's plans on Thursday, although Brogdon himself did not respond to several telephone and email messages.
Longtime Brogdon ally and former state Rep. Charles Key read a statement from Brogdon in which Brogdon said his resignation was necessary "for the good of the party."
Brogdon, a former state senator and one-time tea party favorite who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010 and for U.S. Senate in 2014, defeated the incumbent chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party during an election in April.
Key acknowledged Brogdon has struggled to unite two separate factions of the party — the conservative grass-roots supporters who helped elect Brogdon and the more moderate, chamber-backed Republicans who have traditionally controlled the party.
"The real story here is that the people who lost the election have been trying to get rid of Randy and the grass-roots folks since the people have elected him," Key said.
Since his election, Brogdon faced criticism for hiring a top-level staffer who had pleaded guilty to a domestic violence charge. After several weeks, Brogdon ultimately backed down and accepted the resignation of Thomas Clint "T.C." Ryan just hours after party members announced plans to introduce a resolution calling for Ryan to be fired.
Brogdon came under fire again in July for a post on the party's Facebook page that said giving people food stamps is akin to feeding animals in national parks. Brogdon later said the post was intended to illustrate the cycle of government dependency and apologized "for any misconceptions that were created."
Key said some of Brogdon's opponents, many of whom are well-connected establishment Republicans, have also made it difficult for Brogdon to raise money.
"They worked toward drying up the money, and that's been another way in which pressure has been put on to make it difficult for the chairman," Key said.
Party officials say they are planning to schedule a meeting of the Republican State Committee, which would elect a new chairman.
The story has been corrected to show that Brogdon served a five-month term as chairman, not five years.
Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy
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