State Rep. Aaron Stiles won a close re-election race, giving Oklahoma House Republicans a record-high 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.
As a result, House members picked 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 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.
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.
“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.
“Oklahoma is a conservative state,” Hickman said. “Obviously our registration is trending more Republican than Democrat at this point in history. A lot of that has to do what's happening nationally … frustration with the federal government, the spending, the debt, the policies of this president.”
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