John Whetsel wins fifth term as Oklahoma County sheriff

John Whetsel beats Republican challenger Darrell Sorrels nearly 2-1 to win re-election as county sheriff. The results mark the widest margin of victory for the sheriff in 16 years of campaigns.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD zcampfield@opubco.com Modified: November 7, 2012 at 1:10 am •  Published: November 6, 2012
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Experience trumped partisan politics in the race for Oklahoma County sheriff.

Democratic incumbent John Whetsel won his fifth term of office Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Darrell Sorrels, 163,839 to 89,352.

At 65 percent, it was Whetsel's largest margin of victory in 16 years of campaigns.

“I think the issue that really attracted the voters was, one, the professionalism of the sheriff's office and, two, the fact that it's not about politics,” he said Tuesday night. “It's not about being a Democrat or Republican, it's about being a good crime fighter.”

Whetsel carried with him experience, name recognition and dollars, outraising his opponent nearly 14 to 1 despite running on the Democratic ticket in largely Republican territory.

Registration numbers logged by the Oklahoma County Election Board indicate the gulf between county Democrats and Republicans was wider this year than it has been in at least a decade.

There were less than 168,000 Democrats registered in the county on Election Day, compared to nearly 180,000 Republicans. In contrast, there were actually more Democrats registered in Oklahoma County in 2008 (181,000) than Republicans (not quite 180,000).

Sorrels, 58, of Midwest City, and his supporters tried to seize upon that disparity early and often, painting Whetsel as a big-spending liberal who took orders from the federal government and did not support gun rights.

That plan appears to have fallen short, and Whetsel won despite strong wins Tuesday for Oklahoma Republicans in other local, state and federal races.

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