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Oklahoma voters kick out local official tied to white nationalist groups-ConstroLink.com

Voters in Enid, Oklahoma, have decisively kicked out a city council member with a history of ties to white nationalist groups from the elected body almost a year after he was admitted.

Judd Blevins lost his position as Enid’s ward 1 council member, according to Oklahoma’s state election board. The move comes months after Blevin was shown to have attended a deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and was later shown to led an Oklahoma chapter of the white nationalist group Identity Evropa.

Blevins denied he was or ever had been a white supremacist, and said he was motivated by “the same issues that got Donald Trump elected in 2016”.

A small group of 36 Blevins supporters had won him election last year, but he lost Tuesday vote to fellow Republican candidate Cheryl Patterson who had campaigned on a platform of returning Enid to “normalcy” and appears to have defeated Blevins by a 20-point margin amounting, or 268 votes.

In his campaign to maintain his seat on the council after a recall election was approved earlier this year, Blevins noted his achievements, including voting for a movie theater in his ward, storm water drainage improvements and the opening of a branch of the Texas Roadhouse steak restaurant chain.

He’d said voters had elected him “because they believed I was the best candidate who shared their values, their concerns and their hopes for the future of Enid”.

An earlier effort to censure Blevins for failing to explain or apologize for aligning himself with white nationalists collapsed after a fellow commissioner, Derwin Norwood, the only Black member of the city governing body, said he accepted Blevins’ statement that he was opposed “to all forms of racial hatred, racial discrimination and any form of government that would suppress the rights that are enshrined in our constitution”.

But as the election drew close, some claimed that Blevins’ extremist ties had not been severed.

At a public forum last week, his opponent said she believed in “second chances, but my opponent has not been forthcoming in his continued association with members of the white nationalist movement”.

After Tuesday results rolled in, Connie Vickers, a Democrat who campaigned against Blevins, told NBC News: “We won. Blevins lost. Hate lost.” Even on voting day, Blevins said he had a good chance of retaining his seat. “I’m pretty confident I’ll come out on top,” he told the outlet. “And if not, I fought the good fight.”

He said that if he was defeated, he planned to “just go back to private life. Life goes on.”

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But the race between Blevins and Patterson at times grew heated. He disparaged her as a tool of radical social justice campaigners and compared himself to Donald Trump encircled on all sides by a faction of far-left “perverts”. Someone had tried to kill him by cutting a brake line on his pick-up, he claimed.

Blevins’ opponent, meanwhile, campaigned on a platform to restore Enid’s sullied reputation. “It was time to step forward,” Patterson said of her candidacy. “It’s time to restore our reputation.”

“Enid is not a town that promotes white nationalism or white supremacy in any way,” Patterson was quoted by NBC. “And the people are good.”

The Enid election results have yet to be certified, which could happen on Friday.