Idabel representative switches to GOP
The number of state House Democrats got even smaller Thursday as Idabel state Rep. Johnny Tadlock announced he was switching to the Republican Party.
The switch leaves state House Republicans with a 77-24 majority.
Republicans also remain in firm control the state Senate, 39-9.
“This to me is not at all about party affiliation,” Tadlock said in a House news release. “This is about representing the people who live in my district to the best of my ability and making sure their voice is heard at the state Capitol.”
Tadlock said he thought he could better accomplish that as a member of the majority Republican Party.
Tadlock represents House District 1, which serves part of Le Flore and all of McCurtain counties in southeastern Oklahoma. He was first elected to that position in 2014 and was re-elected without opposition earlier this year.
“I have not changed my beliefs,” he said.
“As a Democrat, I was endorsed by the National Rifle Association. I have always been pro-life. I have cared about safe and decent roads and bridges, public safety, free and fair public education and health care that reaches those in rural communities. These are still the issues with which I will be concerned.”
Democrats once controlled most House seats in rural southeastern Oklahoma, an area known as Little Dixie, but that has changed dramatically over the past decade or so as rural Oklahoma has become increasingly Republican.
Of the 24 Democrats remaining in the House, only four are from outside of the Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Norman metropolitan areas.
“Whether the legislator from House District 1 is a Republican or a Democrat, the Democratic Caucus is going to continue to fight for legislation that benefits towns like Broken Bow and Idabel,” House Minority Leader Emily Virgin said Thursday after Tadlock announced his switch.
“For the last decade, Republican policies from health care to education have been devastating to rural Oklahoma so while we don’t understand Rep. Tadlock’s decision, we wish him the best of luck.”