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Challenges filed against Oklahoma County office-seekers fall flat

Darrell Sorrels, R-Midwest City, a former Oklahoma County sheriff's deputy, is eligible to run against his old boss, Sheriff John Whetsel, D-Choctaw, in the November election, and five Republican candidates for county court clerk will face off at the June primary.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Published: April 24, 2012

A former sheriff's deputy is qualified to run against his old boss for sheriff, the Oklahoma County Election Board ruled Monday.

Darrell Sorrels, R-Midwest City, is not considered a federal employee despite his contract work for the U.S. Marshals Service, the three-member board announced after a lengthy determination hearing.

Sorrels' candidacy was challenged last week by Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, D-Choctaw, on the grounds that Sorrels' employment as a special deputy with the service precluded him from running for partisan office.

Sorrels told the board Monday that although he is “specially deputized” for the service, his employer is actually a private security company out of New Mexico.

Sorrels, who mans a security checkpoint at the federal courthouse in Oklahoma City, said he works as an independent contractor and receives no pay or benefits from the federal government.

Court clerk race

The board also ruled Monday in favor of two candidates for Oklahoma County court clerk, meaning all five Republican candidates for that office will remain on the ballot for the June 26 primary election.

No Democrat filed for the seat, so the race will be decided at the primary election.

Tim Rhodes and Charles Key, both of Oklahoma City, independently challenged the eligibility of Kelly Barlean on the grounds that Barlean does not meet residency requirements to run for the seat.

Barlean said his family is split between two homes — his mother-in-law's in McLoud and his father-in-law's in Oklahoma City — because a decision to move was not made until after his three children enrolled in school in McLoud.

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