Political parties split final two elections impacting 2012 session

The two major political parties have split the difference in two special elections held yesterday. Both races saw low voter turnout –- but Democrats were thrilled to make an incremental gain in the state House of Representatives.

In Senate District 20, Republican Ann AJ Griffin won easily with 3,049 votes (79.07 percent), defeating Democratic nominee Magnus W.T. Scott, Sr. (807 votes, 20.93 percent) to fill out the remaining months (and the last few weeks of session) for the seat held by the late David Myers of Ponca City.

The old District 20 rested in Grant and Kay Counties. Tuesday’s election was held in the new district lines, sprawling across north central Oklahoma’s Logan, Noble and Pawnee counties, and a portion if Kingfisher County — encompassing an entirely new electorate. 

In statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, state Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell congratulated Griffin on her victory. He said, “AJ ran a spirited campaign and will serve the people of District 20 well. AJ will be a strong advocate for economic growth and smaller government in the State Senate.”

In House District 71 (Tulsa), Democratic nominee Dan Arthrell won by 3 votes (1,416 votes, 50.05 percent) in final but unofficial returns, defeating Republican nominee Katie Arthrell (1,413, or 49.95 percent). If the results hold up, Arthrell will replace former state Rep. Dan Sullivan, a Republican. 

Democratic party state chairman Wallace Collins celebrated the apparent win in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK. Collins said, “We are very excited with the results of a competitive race. Our Democratic Candidate, Dan Arthrell has worked hard, listened to the voters of the district, and proudly, won the right to serve the people.”

Pinnell, however, says Arthrell will file for the seat next week, seeking election in November. He told local Republican activists, “Keep those Katie Henke signs in your garage, because we intend to help Katie Henke get elected in November.”

Both of the new legislators will take their oaths shortly after election results are certified.

Earlier this year, in special elections held February 14, Democrats held on to a Senate seat (District 46, Al McAffrey) and regained a House seat that had been held for several months by a Republican (for the first time in state history). That District 1 seat is now back in the Democratic column, and victor Curtis McDaniel plans to seek reelection in November. 

After the new members are sworn, the Senate will have 32 Republicans and 16 Democrats; the House will have 68 Republicans and 33 Democrats.