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Tuesday, July 7th, 2020Last Update: Thursday, June 25th, 2020 07:51:39 AM

Republicans Will Retain Control of Legislature

By: Constitution Staff

The candidate filing period for the Oklahoma Legislature this year was April 8-10. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, candidates were encouraged to file their paperwork, along with the required filing fee or petition, by mail or delivery service. Candidates who filed in-person did so using a “drive-through” in the State Capitol parking lot. Oklahoma’s Primary Election date is the last Tuesday in June, which will be June 30 this year. For those seats in which no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the Runoff Primary Election will be held on the last Tuesday of August. The date this year will be August 25. The General Election will be held November 3.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has 101 members and the Oklahoma Senate has 48 members. A 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.

In 2020 there are only five legislators who could not run for reelection because of term limits, all are Republicans. This was down considerably from 2018 when 18 seats were open due to term limits. This was largely the result of the large number of incumbents defeated two years ago who would have been term-limited this time. Four members of the Oklahoma House were ineligible to run this time. Term-limited representatives include: Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia), Charles Ortega (R-Altus), Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher), and Harold Wright (R-Weatherford). Sen. Gary Stanislawski (R-Tulsa) is the only member of the State Senate unable to seek re-election in 2020.

A number of other legislators decided not to run, even though they were not term-limited. Rep. Johnny Tadlock (R-Idabel), who changed his registration from Democrat to Republican after being re-elected without opposition in 2018, chose not to seek another term in 2020. Rep. Ben Loring (D-Miami) is not running, and Rep. David Perryman (D-Chickasha) also decided not to seek reelection. Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) chose not to run for reelection and is instead running for Congress in the second district. State Senator Jason Smalley (R-Stroud) resigned on January 31, which created a vacancy in the Senate which will be filled this year.

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 2022. The odd numbered seats are up for election this year. Republicans currently hold a 38-9 majority in the 48 member Senate with one seat vacant (Sen. Smalley). Republicans hold 19 of the even numbered seats not on the ballot this year (not including the vacant seat), with Democrats holding four. The even numbered vacant seat, which was held by a Republican, will be filled in the 2020 election. So, the GOP only needed to hold six of the 25 seats up for election this year to maintain control.

Eight senators were automatically elected because no other candidates filed, or their opponents withdrew or were stricken from the ballot after filing. Seven of those are Republicans, and one is a Democrat. Democrats did not field a candidate in four districts, so a Republican will fill those seats in the primary elections. Therefore, Republicans are already guaranteed to have 11 of the seats on the ballot this year. So, Republican have already secured enough seats to maintain control.

All 101 House seats are up for election each election cycle. In the House there are currently 77 Republicans, 23 Democrats, and one vacant seat that was held by a Democrat. Because no other candidates filed, or their opponents withdrew or stricken from the ballot after filing, 42 members of the House have already been elected. That number includes 38 Republicans and just 4 Democrats. Nineteen Republicans and two Democrats will be elected in the primary elections, since they have no opposition in the General Election. Therefore, the GOP will go into the General Election guaranteed to have 57 seats compared to 6 for the Democrats. So, Republicans are already guaranteed to keep control of the House. There are 38 seats at stake in the General Election. The Libertarian Party is only fielding a candidate in one of the races, and there are independent candidates in two races.

The following incumbents were elected to the Senate because they had no opponents:

Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa)

Lonnie Paxton (R-Tuttle)

Joe Newhouse (R-Broken Arrow)

Casey Murdock (R-Felt)

Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville)

Chris Kidd (R-Ringling)

Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow)

Adam Pugh (R-Edmond)

The following incumbents were elected to the House because they had no opponents:

Jim Olsen (R-Roland)

Josh West (R-Grove)

Rusty Cornwell (R-Vinita)

Tom Gann (R-Inola)

Mark Lepak (R-Claremore)

Judd Strom (R-Copan)

Avery Frix (R-Muskogee)

Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee)

Justin Humphrey (R-Lane)

Dustin Roberts (R-Mead)

Charles McCall (R-Atoka)

Danny Sterling (R-Tecumseh)

Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston)

Ty Burns (R-Morrison)

Sean Roberts (R-Hominy)

Ken Luttrel (R-Ponca City)

John Pfeiffer (R-Orlando)

Ryan Martinez (R-Edmond)

Denise Crosswhite-Hader (R-Yukon)

Emily Virgin (D-Norman)

Brian Hill (R-Mustang)

Tammy Townley (R-Ardmore)

Tommy Hardin (R-Madill)

Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan)

Brad Boles (R Marlow)

Mark McBride (R-Moore)

Kevin West (R-Moore)

Carl Newton (R-Cherokee)

Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon)

Trey Caldwell (R-Lawton)

Jeff Boatman (R-Tulsa)

Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa)

T.J. Marti (R-Tulsa)

Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow)

John Waldron (D-Tulsa)

Stan May (R-Broken Arrow)

Nicole Miller (R Edmond)

Tammy West (R-OKC)

David Hardin (R-Stilwell)

Forrest Bennett (D-OKC)

Dean Davis (R-Broken Arrow)

One Representative, not an incumbent, was elected to the House because they had no opponent:

Steve Bashore (R-Miami)

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