GOP Se­nate vic­tory ends Democrats’ streak

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - Capi­tol Bureau dden­walt@ok­la­ BY DALE DENWALT

Repub­li­can Paul Rosino won his state Se­nate seat Tues­day, putting a damper on a string of four Demo­cratic vic­to­ries this year that has raised ques­tions about the GOP’s strong­hold on Ok­la­homa pol­i­tics.

Rosino, who is re­tired from the Navy and works in real es­tate, beat Steven Vin­cent with nearly 58 per­cent of the vote in the dis­trict that cov­ers a swath of the south Ok­la­homa City metro area.

In Tulsa, how­ever, Demo­crat Al­li­son Ik­ley Free­man won a ra­zor­thin spe­cial elec­tion over Brian O’Hara to re­place a de­part­ing Repub­li­can se­na­tor.

Rosino waved off the de­bate that has in­flu­enced elec­toral dis­cus­sions over the past year, that Repub­li­cans have lost ur­ban spe­cial elec­tions be­cause of their per­for­mance on the state level.

“I think what it says is that my dis­trict, they lis­tened to my mes­sage and my mes­sage is what resonated,” Rosino said. “It’s nice that it hap­pened, that we can say the wave stopped here in Se­nate Dis­trict 45, but I want to work with ev­ery­body.”

If the leg­isla­tive spe­cial ses­sion drags on, Rosino could be sworn in be­fore it ends. How­ever, he de­clined to com­ment on cur­rent events at the Capi­tol.

“My main fo­cus was on win­ning and tak­ing care of things here first. I’ll let the chips fall as they may,” he said.

Se­nate Dis­trict 45 cov­ers por­tions of Ok­la­homa and Cleve­land counties. It be­came va­cant when for­mer state Sen. Kyle Love­less re­signed amid ac­cu­sa­tions that he em­bez­zled his own cam­paign funds.

Two other seats were up for grabs Tues­day.

Tulsa’s Se­nate Dis­trict 37 is held by Dan New­berry, who will de­part his seat at the end of the year to fo­cus on his pro­fes­sional ca­reer as a banker. Ik­ley-Free­man is now the fourth Demo­crat to pick up a GOP seat, but her vic­tory only raises the Se­nate Demo­cratic cau­cus count to eight in the 48-mem­ber cham­ber.

If the num­bers hold, Ik­ley-Free­man won the dis­trict by just 31 votes out of 4,152 cast. O’Hara can ask for a re­count but must pay at least $600 for elec­tion work­ers to re­view the bal­lots.

Also in Tulsa, House Dis­trict 76 was left va­cant when state Rep. David Brum­baugh died in April. Repub­li­can Ross Ford hand­ily beat Demo­crat Chris Van Land­ing­ham with nearly 70 per­cent of the vote.

Be­fore Tues­day, Democrats had won three spe­cial elec­tions this year in dis­tricts for­merly held by the GOP. Some have said the vic­to­ries were a sign that Democrats in Ok­la­homa had turned the cor­ner af­ter more than a decade of em­bar­rass­ing losses that re­duced the once-ma­jor­ity party to just a hand­ful of law­mak­ers.

Of 101 House mem­bers, Democrats have just 28 seats.

There will be at least three more spe­cial elec­tions in com­ing months. House Demo­cratic Leader Scott In­man said he will leave his post at the end of this year, Repub­li­can state Rep. Scott Biggs re­signed to take a fed­eral job and state Sen. Bryce Mar­latt re­signed af­ter he was ac­cused of try­ing to forcibly kiss an Uber driver.

State Rep. Casey Mur­dock, R-Felt, filed for Mar­latt’s Se­nate seat. If he wins, there could be an­other spe­cial elec­tion in the Ok­la­homa Pan­han­dle.

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