Nail-biter finish gives Oklahoma House Republicans a record majority

The Democratic challenger, who lost by 18 votes, is considering a recount in the House District 45 race in Norman. Election officials still have to review 69 provisional ballots in that race.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Modified: November 7, 2012 at 10:16 pm •  Published: November 8, 2012
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State Rep. Aaron Stiles won a nail-biter to give Oklahoma House Republicans a record number for next year, according to unofficial voting tallies Wednesday.

Stiles, R-Norman, withstood a challenge from Democrat Paula Roberts by winning 50.1 percent of the vote. With all 11 precincts reporting, Stiles, who was elected to the House in 2010, won by 18 votes out of more than 13,000 ballots cast.

Stiles received 6,786 votes while Roberts, of Norman, got 6,768.

Sixty-nine provisional ballots may have a bearing on the final outcome. Provisional ballots are cast by voters without the required identification at the polls. Voters sign a sworn statement and cast a provisional ballot, which, if it is determined they are registered to vote in that precinct, is included in the final election tally.

The Cleveland County Election Board will review the ballots Friday.

Friday is also the deadline for Roberts to request a recount with the state Election Board. Some equipment problems and double-checking how many ballots were cast in a couple of precincts resulted in the house District 45 results not being compiled until about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“We're looking at all the options and just seeing what would be the best thing to do,” Roberts said. “We're just wanting to get a good night's sleep before we do anything.”

If Stiles' victory stands, House Republicans will pick up two seats, which will give them a 72-29 majority in the 101-member House of Representatives when they convene next year. Their previous high was 70 after the 2010 elections. A death and two vacancies put the tally at 67-31 at the end of this year's session.

A dim spot for Republicans was the loss of the House District 56 seat, which had been held by Rep. Phil Richardson, R-Minco, who could not seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits.

Democrat David Perryman, of Chickasha, won a close race, winning 50.5 percent of the vote, over Republican Chuck Utsler, of Pocasset, in the House District 56 contest.

But Republicans snatched two traditionally Democratic seats: House District 32, the seat held by former Minority Leader Danny Morgan, D-Prague, and House District 22, which is held by Rep. Wes Hilliard, D-Sulphur. Both Morgan and Hilliard opted against seeking re-election.

Republican Jason Smalley, of Stroud, defeated Democrat Keith Kinnamon, of Chandler, for the HD 32 post. Atoka Mayor Charles McCall, a Republican, defeated Democrat Doris Row, of Sulphur, for the HD 22 seat.

All 16 House Republicans and all seven Democratic House members won re-election, according to unofficial results, some of which weren't complete until Wednesday morning.

Republicans won nine of the 11 open seats, winning 25 of the 34 contested seats.

“It's even more affirmation of the people's confidence in the Republican Party in Oklahoma,” House Speaker Designate T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said Wednesday. “It's a united party with a clear, pro-growth message, which is evidently the prosperity that we're seeing in the state and we need to continue that momentum.”

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