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Oklahoma County judge fails in similar-name challenge of opposing candidate

District Judge Donald Deason challenged the candidacy of Orenthel Denson, citing a state statute that requires a hearing showing good faith of the challenger if their name is similar to the incumbent. The state’s Election Board ruled Monday that Denson will stay on the ballot.
by Matt Dinger Modified: April 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm •  Published: April 16, 2014
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A sitting Oklahoma County District Judge will face an Oklahoma City attorney in an election for the seat, the state’s election board ruled Monday.

District Judge Donald Deason challenged the candidacy of Orenthel Denson, citing a state statute that requires a hearing showing good faith of the challenger if their name is similar to the incumbent.

The Election Board decided unanimously that their names were not similar enough to warrant such a preliminary hearing.

Deason’s attorney called five witnesses, including two other Oklahoma County judges and three attorneys.

Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish testified that during a conversation with Denson, he stated that he was challenging Deason for three reasons: Deason had not formed a re-election committee, had not raised money for a race and that their last names were similar enough that Denson might draw some votes from the confusion.

Oklahoma County Special Judge Lisa Hammond recounted a conversation with Denson prior to him filing for the race. Though he did not specifically say that he was running for the seat due to the name similarities, his demeanor and smile when asked indicated that was indeed a reason, she testified.

“It was clear to me and whoever else was in that room that he was running because their names were similar,” said attorney Greg McCracken, who was a party to the conversation with Hammond and another attorney.

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