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Republicans continue 30-year dominance in state Legislature

Republicans continue 30-year dominance in state Legislature

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State Capitol rotunda

Oklahoma Republicans strengthened their hold on the state Legislature, maintaining their Senate advantage while increasing their numbers in the House of Representatives.

Correction: This story originally stated President Donald Trump's 1,018,870 votes were a record for any candidate in the state's history. Although Trump's total surpassed the previous high, Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett received 1,098,561 votes in the same election, thus beating Trump’s total. The story has been corrected.

Tuesday’s record election turnout powered a Republican gain of five seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, pushing the Legislature even further into the red zone and leaving Democrats with only the faintest silver linings.

The GOP broke even in the Senate — losing one seat and gaining one, both in Tulsa County — but will be down one at least part of the upcoming session because of a vacancy created by state Sen. Stephanie Bice’s election to Congress. Republicans currently hold a 39-9 majority there.

Republicans increased their supermajority in the lower chamber to 82 of 101 seats.

“Oklahomans want growth, freedom and conservative government, and their election of the biggest Republican majority in the state House history will deliver it,” said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. “It was encouraging to make gains statewide, from picking up all rural seats for the first time in state history to adding representation in the Oklahoma City area.”

Legislative Republicans have had a net gain in every presidential election since 1992, and Democrats knew from the start they were in trouble again this year. The retirements of Ben Loring of Miami and David Perryman of Chickasha and the defeat of Matt Meredith of Tahlequah means the party has only one legislator — Rep. Trish Ranson of Stillwater — from outside the two major metro areas.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, said outside money coming into the state for the 5th Congressional District race between Bice and Democratic incumbent Kendra Horn played a part in her party narrowly losing two House seats in Oklahoma County.

“The urban seats we lost were not due to our candidates not working hard,” Virgin said. “They outworked and had great campaigns.”

In addition, what happened in Oklahoma is what is happening across the nation, she said.

“I think voters picked their local representatives based on what is happening in Washington, D.C., and not what is happening in Oklahoma,” she said.

President Donald Trump’s popularity was also a factor, she said.

Trump not only carried all 77 counties, but topped 70% in 70 of them. His unofficial total of 1,018,870 votes are the most for any presidential candidate in state history, and would have been the most for any candidate for any office had Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett not totaled 1,098,561 in this same election.

Tuesday’s results also revealed the growing gulf between the two largest urban areas and the rest of the state.

Trump’s 56% in Tulsa County was 2 points below 2016, the lowest for any Republican presidential candidate since 1964.

Conversely, Joe Biden received 12,000 more votes in Tulsa County than any Democratic presidential candidate ever, and his 40.9% share was the best since 1964.

In Oklahoma County, Trump’s 3,300-vote margin was the narrowest for a Republican presidential candidate since Democrat Lyndon Johnson carried it in 1964.

Statewide, Biden’s 503,289 votes were the most for a Democrat since 2004 — an election that featured a high-powered U.S. Senate contest between Tom Coburn and Brad Carson — and the second-most since Jimmy Carter’s narrow loss here in 1976.

State House members will be sworn in 11 a.m. Nov. 11 at the Capitol.

Senators will be sworn in Nov. 16 in the early afternoon at the Capitol.

Gov. Kevin Stitt is expected to call a special election to fill the post vacated by Bice due to her congressional win.

Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, is confident Republicans will maintain that seat.

He believes voters in Senate District 22 “will select a leader with our shared commitment to common sense conservative policies that help Oklahoma grow and prosper.”

Voter registration in the district is: 40,503 Republicans; 519 Libertarians; 16,295 Democrats; and 11,688 independents.

Featured video

Election board secretary explains counting procedures. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World

VostCast post-election roundup

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