Oklahoma Legislative Races
By: Constitution Staff
A large number of legislators were not able to run for reelection this year due to term-limits. Legislators are limited to a total combined service in the House and/or Senate of 12 years. Voters overwhelmingly adopted a state question in 1990 that placed term-limits on lawmakers. It took effect in 1992, but did not affect previous years of service. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has 101 members and the Oklahoma Senate has 48 members. This year there were 30 legislators who could not run for reelection because of term-limits. Neither House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview), nor Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa) will be returning next year as a result of term-limits.
Nineteen members of the Oklahoma House, nine Democrats and ten Republicans, were ineligible to run again. Term-limited Representatives include: Gary Banz (R-Midwest City), Lisa Billy (R-Lindsay), Mike Brown (D-Tahlequah), Ann Coody (R-Lawton), Marian Cooksey (R-Edmond), Doug Cox (R-Grove), Lee Denney (R-Cushing), Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview), Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City), Jeannie McDaniel (D-Tulsa), Jerry McPeak (D-Warner), Richard Morrissette (D-Oklahoma City), Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa), R.C. Pruett (D-Antlers), Wade Rousselot (D-Wagoner), Mike Shelton (D-Oklahoma City), Ben Sherrer (D-Chouteau), Jerry Shoemake (D-Morris), and Paul Wesselhoft (R-Moore).
Twelve senators, four Democrats and eight Republicans, were ineligible to run for re-election. Term-limited Senators include: Patrick Anderson (R-Enid), Don Barrington (R-Lawton), Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa), Brian Crain (R-Tulsa), John Ford (R-Bartlesville), Earl Garrison (D-Muskogee), Clark Jolley (R-Edmond), Ron Justice (R-Chickasha), Mike Mazzei (R-Tulsa), Susan Paddack (D-Ada), and Charles Wyrick (D-Fairland).
A number of other legislators decided simply not to run. Representatives David Derby (R-Owasso), Dan Fisher (R-El Reno), Randy Grau (R-Edmond), Charlie Joyner (R-Midwest City), James Lockhart (D-Heavener), Mark McCullough (R-Sapulpa), Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City), Seneca Scott (D-Tulsa), and Justin Wood (R-Shawnee) did not run for reelection. State Sen. Jim Halligan (R-Stillwater) also chose not to run.
Other legislators are seeking another office rather than running for reelection to the Legislature. Rep. Mike Christian (R-Oklahoma City) is running for Oklahoma County Sheriff, and Rep. James Leewright (R-Bristow) ran for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bingman and won the seat in the June 28 Republican primary.
Three incumbents were defeated in the Primary election. All were Republicans who lost to fellow Republicans. Senator Corey Brooks (R-Washington) was narrowly defeated by Paul Scott. Rep. Dennis Johnson (R-Duncan) lost his seat to challenger Marcus McEntire. Rep. Ken Walker (R-Tulsa) lost to Carol Bush. Whether those seat remain in the GOP column will be determined in the General Election on November 8.
Going into this election year, Republicans held a 39-9 majority in the 48 member Senate. Senators serve four-year terms, with half of the seats up for election each election cycle. The even numbered districts will not be on the ballot until 2018. The exception is Senate District 12 held by Sen. Bingman who cannot serve the remaining two years of his four-year term because of the 12-year legislative term-limits. Bingman was first elected to his Senate seat in 2006 after serving two years in the House of Representatives. The special election to fill the remaining two years of Bingman’s term coincided with this year’s regularly scheduled elections. As already mentioned, Rep. Leewright was elected to that seat. With Leewright’s election, Republicans hold 18 of the even numbered seats, and the Democrats hold the other five. So, the GOP only needs seven of the seats up for election this year to maintain control.
The twenty-four odd numbered districts are up for election this year. Twenty of those are currently held by Republicans, and only four by Democrats. There were 13 incumbent senators running for reelection, including 12 Republicans and just one Democrat. Democrats did not have a candidate in five districts, but the Republican nominee will need to defeat an Independent candidate in one of those districts. Three GOP incumbents won reelection in the Primary – Sen. Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City), Sen Bryce Marlatt (R-Woodward), and Sen. Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee). Also, one seat held by a Democrat incumbent remains in the Democrat column with Sen. Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa) winning reelection in the Primary. When added to the five Democrat seats not up for election this year, Democrats are now guaranteed to have only six seats. However, it is mathematically possible for Democrats to regain control of the Senate if they win 18 of the 20 seats for which they are fielding a candidate in November. But, Republicans are expected to win at least enough of the contested seats to maintain their current edge.
It is much the same story for the House chamber. All 101 House seats are up for election each election cycle. Coming into the election year, Republicans held a 71-30 majority in the House. There are 71incumbents who filed for reelection in the House – 52 Republicans and 19 Democrats. Because they drew no opponents, or their opponents withdrew after filing, 18 members of the House were elected at or soon after filing. That number includes 12 Republicans and 6 Democrats. Six Republicans and three Democrats were elected in the Primary Elections, since they had no opposition in the General Election. On August 25, Randy McDaniel (R-Edmond) secured another term when his Democrat opponent withdrew from the race. So, the GOP goes into the General Election with 18 seats compared to just 9 for the Democrats.
There are 73 seats at stake in the November election, including one that only a Republican and a Libertarian are running, one that only a Republican and an Independent are running, and one that only a Democrat and Independent are running. The Libertarian Party is only fielding a candidate in 10 of the races. It is expected that Republicans will finish at least near their current level and could make further gains, especially if GOP candidates higher up on the ballot run strong in the fall election.
The following Senators were elected in the Primary Election:
James Leewright (R-Bristow)
Kyle Loveless (R-Oklahoma City)
Bryce Marlatt (R-Woodward)
Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa)
Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee)
The following House members were elected because they had no opponents, or they won election in the June 28 Primary:
Dennis Casey (R-Morrison)
Donnie Condit (D-McAlester)
Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City)
Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City)
John Enns (R-Enid)
Chuck Hoskin (D-Vinita)
Mark Lawson (R-Sapulpa)
Mark Lepak (R-Clarmore)
Steve Kouplen (D-Beggs)
Mark McBride (R-Moore)
Randy McDaniel (R-Edmond)
Charles McCall (R-Atoka)
Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia)
Carl Newton (R-Woodward)
Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa)
Pat Ownby (R-Ardmore)
John Pfeiffer (R-Mulhall)
Charles Ortega (R-Altus)
Pat Ownbey (R-Ardmore)
Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa)
Michael Rogers (R-Broken Arrow)
Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher)
Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville)
Shane Stone (D-Oklahoma City)
Steve Vaughan (R-Ponca City)
Emily Virgin (D-Norman)
Cory Williams (D-Stillwater)
Harold Wright (R-Weatherford)
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