Democrats capture GOP-held state seat in red Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY — A Democratic schoolteacher defeated a Republican businessman in a special election for an Oklahoma state House seat in a traditionally GOP district, making it the third GOP-held seat Democrats have captured in special elections in the red state this year.

Unofficial election results from Tuesday's election show Democrat Jacob Rosecrants won 60 percent of the vote over Republican Darin Chambers for the House District 46 seat in west Norman, despite a nearly 3,000 voter-registration advantage for the GOP there.

Republicans still hold a 72-28 edge in the Oklahoma House, but Democrats have been chipping away at GOP advantages in the Legislature.

Rosecrants and Chambers were vying to replace Republican former state Rep. Scott Martin, who resigned in May to take a position as director of the Norman Chamber of Commerce.

A seventh-grade geography teacher, Rosecrants focused on improving public education. He also tapped into growing voter frustration over state budget problems and several recent sex scandals involving Republican officials.

On the day of the election, a Republican state senator resigned from office after an Uber driver told police he grabbed her head and kissed her neck while she drove him to a bar in June. Former state Sen. Bryce Marlatt, a married father of four from Woodward, was the third GOP state legislator to resign from office this year amid a sex scandal in Oklahoma.

State Rep. Dan Kirby resigned in February after being accused of sexually harassing two former legislative assistants, and ex-state Sen. Ralph Shortey was indicted in federal court last week on charges of child sex trafficking and producing and transporting child pornography. In both of those Republican-leaning districts, Democratic candidates defeated Republicans in special elections.

Republicans in Oklahoma hold a 3-to-1 advantage in legislative seats along with every statewide elected office, both U.S. Senate seats and all five U.S. House seats. But Democrats are hoping to build on the momentum of victories in special elections.

Democratic candidates for governor in 2018 already are hammering on budget and education issues as term-limited Republican Mary Fallin leaves office, and Democrats believe the congressional seat held by Republican Rep. Steve Russell in Oklahoma City could be within reach.

Funding for public schools and other services has dwindled in recent years as the Legislature cut taxes on both individual income and oil and natural gas production. The state has grappled with budget shortfalls since oil and gas prices plummeted around 2014. Schoolteachers haven't had a raise in a decade, and over the past three years, state funding for public schools has declined by more than $48 million, even as student enrollment increased by nearly 8,000.

"Right now our state is failing because of Republican leadership," said Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Anna Langthorn. "I think (Rosecrant's victory) is indicative of the trend that Oklahomans are frustrated, they're paying attention and that we'll continue to see success in 2018 and we'll probably surprise a lot of people."

___

Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

Must Read

10 Things to Know for Thursday

Aug 11, 2016

Among 10 Things to Know: Criticism may be slowing Trump train; 'Grim Sleeper' sent to death row; versatile ESPN sportscaster dies at 61

Trump ignites new firestorm: Gun backers might stop Clinton

Aug 10, 2016

Donald Trump sets off a fresh political firestorm by suggesting gun rights supporters might find a way to stop Hillary Clinton if she's elected and nominates anti-gun Supreme Court justices

Valeant's rosy forecast and promised changes, fire up shares

Aug 9, 2016

Drugmaker Valeant posts big 2Q loss, but execs tout turn-around plan and reassured investors drive up shares

People also read these

Hearing on Johnny Depp domestic violence allegations delayed

Aug 9, 2016

A judge is briefly delaying a restraining order hearing involving Johnny Depp and his estranged wife because it is expected to span several days; depositions of both actors set

House Speaker Paul Ryan wins GOP nomination to run again

Aug 10, 2016

House Speaker Paul Ryan has defeated a longshot Republican primary challenger who had been praised by Donald Trump

Trump on sidelines as Clinton fills Olympics airtime

Aug 9, 2016

Clinton is taking advantage of the millions of Americans tuned in to NBC to watch U.S. athletes rack up medals during the Olympics in Rio

Weather, 20 December
Houston Weather
+7

High: +11° Low: -2°

Humidity: 83%

Wind: NNE - 7 KPH

Canberra Weather
+27

High: +27° Low: +17°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: W - 20 KPH

Roissy-en-France Weather
+6

High: +6° Low: -5°

Humidity: 87%

Wind: ENE - 7 KPH

Florence Weather
+9

High: +9° Low: +6°

Humidity: 97%

Wind: ENE - 17 KPH

Parga Weather
+7

High: +16° Low: +4°

Humidity: 100%

Wind: SE - 25 KPH