House Republicans will have a record-high number for next year's legislative session by posting wins Tuesday in 24 of the 34 contested seats based on unofficial returns.
House members will pick up at least one seat, which would give them a 71-30 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.
The dim spots for Republicans was Rep. Aaron Stiles, R-Norman, who was trailing in his race, and 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.
Stiles, elected in 2010, was losing to Democrat Paula Roberts, of Norman, in the House District 45 race. With 8 of 11 precincts reporting, Roberts had 50.9 percent of the vote.
Democrat David Perryman, of Chickasha, won a close race with 50.5 percent of the vote over Republican Chuck Utsler, of Pocasset, in the House District 56 race.
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 House District 32 post. Atoka Mayor Charles McCall, a Republican, defeated Democrat Doris Row, of Sulphur, for the House District 22 seat.
“That was a huge victory for us down there,” said House Speaker Designate T.W. Shannon, of Lawton.
Fifteen of the 16 House Republicans and all seven Democratic House members either had won or were ahead, based on incomplete returns.
Republicans appeared headed to win nine of the 11 open seats.
“It was a good night for Republicans in the House of Representatives and it's reflective of the people's endorsement of the pro-growth policies that we've been advancing the last at least six years that I've been there,” Shannon said. “We've got the right message and we've just got to continue Oklahoma forward.
“Success on election night is determined a year out when you're doing candidate recruitment,” Shannon said. “Frankly, we had superior candidates.”
The House District 14 seat will remain held by a Republican. Arthur Hulbert, a Republican from Fort Gibson, won 54.9 percent of the vote against Democrat Jerry Rains, of Muskogee, based on all 15 precincts reporting. Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, did not seek re-election.
House Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, said the growing Republican numbers in the House and Senate reflect the growth of Republican registered voters, which have been gradually increasing the past 50 years in the state.