Demo­crat pulls off spe­cial elec­tion vic­tory for Se­nate seat

Tulsa World - - 11.15.2017 - By Randy Kre­hbiel worked in that Randy Kre­hbiel 918-581-8365 randy.kre­hbiel@tul­saworld.com Twit­ter: @rkre­hbiel

A year ago, Democrats threw $200,000 and a first-tier can­di­date at Se­nate Dis­trict 37, try­ing to un­seat in­cum­bent Repub­li­can Dan New­berry.

They lost the con­ser­va­tive west Tulsa County dis­trict by 15 per­cent­age points.

This year, with New­berry leav­ing the Se­nate, Democrats en­tered a lightly funded, lit­tle-known 26-year-old les­bian.

She won by 31 votes. Al­li­son Ik­ley-Free­man's vic­tory Tues­day over Repub­li­can Brian O'Hara con­tin­ued a string of Demo­cratic spe­cial elec­tion up­sets over the past two years. It gives Democrats three spe­cial elec­tion vic­to­ries in pre­dom­i­nantly Repub­li­can dis­tricts in the Tulsa area in the past two years, in­clud­ing two this year.

Com­plete but un­of­fi­cial re­sults showed Ik­ley-Free­man with 2,234 votes to 2,203 for O'Hara. As is usual with spe­cial elec­tions, low voter turnout was an im­por­tant fact — only 4,437 peo­ple voted in this elec­tion, com­pared to al­most 32,000 in last year's reg­u­lar gen­eral elec­tion.

The area's other spe­cial leg­isla­tive elec­tion, in House Dis­trict 76, pro­duced no drama or sur­prises. Repub­li­can Ross Ford took nearly 70 per­cent of the vote to de­feat Demo­crat Chris VanLand­ing­ham.

Like­wise in the Ok­la­homa City area, where Repub­li­can Paul Rosino de­feated Demo­crat Steven Vin­cent in Se­nate Dis­trict 45.

Ik­ley-Free­man, a men­tal health coun­selor, said she and her cam­paign team worked hard at tar­get­ing vot­ers they knew would turn out for her in a low-vol­ume elec­tion.

“When we were knock­ing on doors, so many peo­ple said, `Thank you. We didn't know there was an elec­tion,” Ik­ley-Free­man said.

Her cam­paign was man­aged by Sarah Baker, who was be­hind Tulsa County's other big up­set this year, state Rep. Karen Gad­dis' vic­tory in House Dis­trict 75.

Ik­ley-Free­man cam­paign.

“You al­ways hope you're go­ing to win, but go­ing into to­day I tried to have no ex­pec­ta­tions,” she said.

Ford is a for­mer Tulsa po­lice of­fi­cer, Union school board mem­ber and Union chief of se­cu­rity who cam­paigned as a friend of the pub­lic schools.

His op­po­nent, VanLand­ing­ham, said, “Ross is a won­der­ful per­son and a pa­triot. I salute him for his will­ing­ness to un­der­take a dif­fi­cult job un­der the direst cir­cum­stances. I ask that the res­i­dents of Dis­trict 76 pay at­ten­tion to the busi­ness at the state Capi­tol and give Ross the sup­port he needs to make pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and the most vul­ner­a­ble in our so­ci­ety a pri­or­ity in bud­get de­ci­sions.”

“I am just so hum­bled to have had the ex­pe­ri­ence of run­ning this cam­paign,” Ford said. “It re­ally is hum­bling to have oth­ers pass judg­ment on you. I'm happy to have had the sup­port of the peo­ple of Bro­ken Ar­row and Dis­trict 76.”

The elec­tion re­sults are ex­pected to be cer­ti­fied on Fri­day. Ford could be­come a mem­ber of the House as early as next week, but Ik­ley-Free­man will likely have to wait un­til Feb. 1 be­cause New­berry's res­ig­na­tion does not be­come un­til Jan. 31.

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