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Saturday, April 29th, 2017Last Update: Friday, February 3rd, 2017 01:39:14 PM

Special Elections for Vacancies in Legislature

By: Constitution Staff

One vacant legislative seat was recently filled and candidates have filed for the special election for the other vacant seat. The two vacancies involve State House District 85 and State Senate District 34.

State House District 85

A Special General Election was held on September 8 for State House District 85. The legislative district based in northwest Oklahoma City became vacant upon the death of incumbent state Representative David Dank, a Republican. On July 14, a four-candidate Republican primary attracted 2,769 voters. But in the special general election, only 2,268 votes were cast for the Republican nominee, Chip Carter. The Democrat nominee, Cyndi Munson, won with 2,640 votes. Monson will serve the remaining year of the current term of Dank who passed away in April.

Munson acknowledges that holding her seat may be difficult in 2016. Munson ran against Dank for the seat in 2014. In that race, she received 5,135 votes, yet lost by nearly 13 percentage points. In this year's special election, she drew only a fraction of her past support yet easily won. In a district with 23,949 registered voters, only 4,908 cast a ballot. While some who supported Carter's primary opponents may have shifted to Munson in the general election, that is considered to be significant since Munson took a liberal position on most issues, well to the political left of most Republicans. The most likely scenario was a lack of enthusiasm for the GOP nominee, coupled with a good voter turnout operation by Democrats.

State Senate District 34

A special election will held to determine the successor for former Sen. Rick Brinkley (R-Owasso) who resigned his Senate seat after pleading guilty to felony charges related to embezzlement from his employer. A Special Primary Election will be held November 10 and the Special General Election will be on January 12, 2016. The dates mean the district will have representation when lawmakers return to the Capitol for the 2016 session which begins in February. Senate District 34 includes Owasso and most of north Tulsa County.

Once held by Democratic President Pro Tem Bob Cullison, the seat turned Republican two decades ago. With a little more than half the district's 38,600 voters registered as Republicans, the senate seat is considered to be safely in the Republican column. Brinkley, 54, had been in line to take over the Senate's top position -- president pro tem. He was elected to the Senate seat in 2010 and ran unopposed in 2014. Former Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon held the seat from 2002 until 2010.

Brinkley was charged August 20 with five wire fraud counts and one tax evasion count. The Better Business Bureau of Tulsa accused Brinkley of embezzling more than $1.8 million "to support his lavish lifestyle and gambling habit." He has agreed to pay $1,829,033 in restitution and $165,625 to the Internal Revenue Service in unpaid taxes. U.S. District Judge Claire Eagan scheduled sentencing for November 20 and Brinkley could be sentenced to as much as 37 months in federal prison under sentencing guidelines.

Four Republicans and two Democrats will compete in the November 10 Special Primary Election. The two party nominees will then face off in the Special General Election on January 12. Two Democrats, J.J. Dossett, 31, of Sperry and Lisa Franklin, 44, of Owasso have filed for the post. The winner will meet the survivor of a four-way Republican primary in the Special General Election. Because it is a special election, no primary runoff will be held and the top vote getter will move on the Special General Election. The Republican candidates are Mark Williams , 67, Owasso; John W. Feary, 38, Owasso; David McLain, 45, Skiatook; and Chuck Daugherty, 68, Collinsville. McLain has won the endorsement of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC). The group interviewed candidates at their September 28 meeting and voted unanimously to support McLain.

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