Republican leaders vowed to push forward issues that died in the Senate last session, a day after a handful of elections handed the Republicans the majority in the Senate for the first time in state history. "We’re bucking the national trend in the House, in the Senate and the statewide level,” said Sen. Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. "It’s about having great candidates who expose what Oklahomans stand for. That’s why we’ve been growing.” Democrats and Republicans had been tied in the Senate since 2006 and had worked under a power sharing agreement. Deadlocks in the Senate caused by the tie prevented some GOP legislation from being passed last session. In elections Tuesday night, the GOP held on to incumbent seats and gained two seats held by Democrats.
We’re bucking the national trend in the House, in the Senate and the statewide level.”
Sen. Glenn Coffee
Seeing both sidesGov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, will now become one of a handful of Oklahoma governors to serve when both chambers are controlled by the opposing party. Democrats controlled the House and Senate under Republican Gov. Frank Keating. Henry stressed a bipartisan approach to issues in the Legislature. "I’m certain we can accomplish great things for the state of Oklahoma by working together in a bipartisan manner,” Henry said in a written statement. "As I have said many times before, my consensus-building style will remain the same, regardless of which party controls the Legislature.” Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, also a Democrat, stressed a bipartisan environment. "I look forward to our work ahead and continuing Oklahoma’s bipartisan spirit,” she said. While Democrats stressed the need to work together, they won’t forget their own key issues. "I anticipate the Senate will function the way it has always functioned. We will be senators and leave partisan registration at the door and try to get the people’s business done,” said Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau, Senate Democratic caucus chair. "We will defend access to the courts, defend the rights of working people, improve health care and continue to create jobs.” Coffee said Republican leaders are still considering leadership positions in the Senate, but are already ready to fight for lawsuit reform, education reform and pro-family issues. "We’ve been given an opportunity,” he said. "If we squander it like what happened in Washington, we’ll receive the same fate. We’ve got to deliver on the promises we’ve made.”