Oklahoma GOP looks to increase majority in House and Senate

There are 12 seats up for grabs in the Senate and 34 in the House of Representatives. Oklahoman Republicans hope to maintain their position and even gain a few seats.
BY MEGAN ROLLAND AND MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: October 19, 2012 at 5:51 pm •  Published: October 21, 2012

Republicans have their best shot of claiming the House District 20 seat, which has been held by a Democrat since the district was created nearly 50 years ago.

The district has been moved from heavily Democratic southern Oklahoma north to an area that covers parts of Cleveland, Garvin, McClain and Pottawatomie counties. The district formerly covered Atoka County and parts of Bryan, Coal, Johnston and Pontotoc counties, where Democrats last year outnumbered Republicans nearly five to one; 14,574 Democrats compared with 3,299 Republicans and 1,302 independents.

The new District 20, which takes effect Nov. 14 after legislators are sworn into office, has more Republicans. Voting registration records as of Thursday showed 8,596 Republicans compared with 8,362 Democrats, 2,336 independents and one Americans Elect Party member.

Rep. Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, cannot seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits. House District 20 has been Democratic since 1965, when members of the House began being elected by district instead of by county.

A growing population in the Norman area and declining numbers of people in rural areas led to lawmakers last year shifting House District 20 from southern Oklahoma as part of their redistricting plan. Lawmakers must redraw legislative districts to reflect the state's population every 10 years using the latest census.

Bobby Cleveland, a Republican from Slaughterville, and Matt Branstetter, a Democrat from Noble, are vying for the seat, which takes in southeastern Norman, most of the Noble School District, Slaughterville and Lexington.

Republicans also are optimistic about their chances in House District 60. Redistricting has moved the mostly Democratic district from Beckham, Harmon and Roger Mills counties and parts of Ellis and Greer counties in western Oklahoma to parts of Caddo and Canadian counties.

Democrats outnumbered Republicans nearly 2-1 in the old district: 11,170 Democrats compared with 5,947 Republicans and 1,644 independents.

The new district has more Republicans. Voter registration records as of Thursday showed 8,963 Republicans, 7,926 Democrats and 1,979 independents.

Dan Fischer, of El Reno, who describes himself as a social conservative, won the Republican nomination for the House District 60 seat, which takes in much of the west Oklahoma City metro area. Kendra Menz-Kimble, of Hinton, is the Democratic candidate, who didn't have an opponent in the June 26 primary.