A Republican, Barlean has political and legislative experience from when he lived in the state of Washington.
A U.S. Army veteran and former intelligence analyst, Barlean was twice elected to the city council in Langley, Wash., and served two terms in the state House there two decades ago.
He was appointed to the House Appropriations Committee as a freshman and later served as the committee’s vice chairman. In 2002, he opted not to seek re-election, opting instead to mount a congressional bid.
As for running for office in Oklahoma, “it’s the same thing, but just a different battlefield,” Barlean said. “The principles are still the same.”
Barlean and his wife moved to Shawnee in 2012 and moved to Oklahoma City more than a year ago when his wife got a job teaching at a local school.
The start of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to Barlean’s decision to run.
He said he was concerned his neighbors would be disproportionately affected by the pandemic and felt his prior appropriations experience would come in handy as Oklahoma tries to regain solid economic footing.
But Barlean said the strongest argument he can make for his candidacy is a pragmatic one — he would be a member of the GOP majority that controls the Legislature.