House Republicans should at least reclaim their record-high level of 70 and could win a couple more seats on top of that, the designated incoming leader of the House of Representatives said.
Designated Speaker T.W. Shannon, who campaigned for GOP House candidates Friday with Gov. Mary Fallin, said he expects all 16 Republican House members seeking re-election Tuesday to return to the state Capitol to serve new two-year terms.
“It's looking really good,” said Shannon, R-Lawton. “I've been visiting with our candidates across the state. We've got some great pickup opportunities.”
Republicans have a good chance of winning two traditional Democratic seats that were moved geographically because of legislative redistricting last year. Incumbents, Reps. Purcy Walker, D-Elk City, and Paul Roan, D-Tishomingo, could not seek re-election because of 12-year legislative term limits.
The Rev. Dan Fisher, of El Reno, is expected to be the first Republican to serve in the House District 60 post, thanks to redistricting that moved the post from a predominantly Democratic area to a more evenly split district taking in much of the west Oklahoma City metro area. He's opposed by Democrat Kendra Menz-Kimble, of Hinton.
Bobby Cleveland could be the first Republican to claim the House District 20 seat. The district has been moved from heavily Democratic southern Oklahoma north to an area that covers parts of Cleveland, Garvin, McClain and Pottawatomie counties. Cleveland, of Slaughterville, is opposed by Matt Branstetter, of Noble.
“We're at 67 now and I think those will probably put us at 69 and I think we're going to be somewhere around 71 or 72 easily,” Shannon said.
Democrats are expected to keep the House District 88 seat vacated by Al McAffrey, who was elected to the state Senate in a special election earlier this year as well as reclaim the six seats to be decided Tuesday. Democrat Kay Floyd is challenging Republican Aaron Kaspereit for the Oklahoma City seat.
Reps. Aaron Stiles, R-Norman, John Bennett, R-Sallisaw, and Josh Cockroft, R-Tecumseh, are involved in close races, Shannon said. Bennett, opposed by Democrat Rick Agent, of Sallisaw; Cockroft, opposed by Democrat Randy Gilbert, of Tecumseh; and Stiles, opposed by Democrat Paula Roberts, of Norman; are freshmen.
“They're looking really good in the polls,” Shannon said.
Shannon campaigned Friday for Republican Jason Smalley, of Stroud, who is seeking the House District 32 seat. Democrat Keith Kinnamon, of Chandler, is trying to win the seat now held by former Minority Leader Danny Morgan, D-Prague.
Shannon said he and Fallin went door-to-door in Tulsa campaigning for Katie Henke for the house District 71 seat, which remains unfilled after Dan Sullivan resigned the post in December.
Henke lost the race in an April 3 special election by three votes to Democrat Dan Arthrell. A manual recount of the votes a week later showed Henke won by a single vote. But shortly after the Tulsa County Election Board certified the recount results, two ballots — both cast for Arthrell — were found by precinct workers, which if counted, would have made him the winner by one vote. The matter went to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which ruled it was impossible to determine with mathematical certainty who won and threw out the election results.
Shannon and the governor also campaigned for Republican Terry O'Donnell, of Catoosa, in the House District 23 seat. He's opposed by Democrat Shawna Keller, of Tulsa. They also attended a rally for Atoka Mayor Charles McCall, who is seeking the House District 22 seat. He's opposed by Doris Row, of Sulphur.
Thirty-four House seats will be decided in Tuesday's election. Twenty-two are held by incumbents — 16 Republicans and six Democrats.
After the 2010 elections, Republicans had a 70-31 majority in the House, its largest advantage ever. Two deaths and an unfilled vacancy put the tally at 67-31 at the end of this year's session.
After the primary and runoff elections, House Republicans hold a 47-20 majority.
The only incumbent to lose so far is Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City.
Nearly 60 percent of the 86 members of the House seeking re-election won another term without being contested: 52 House members seeking re-election didn't have an opponent and two other open seats were taken when only one candidate filed during the April filing period.
Winners of this year's legislative races will be sworn into office Nov. 14 at the Capitol. The session starts Feb. 4 and runs through late May.
Shannon said the GOP House candidates are campaigning hard, but also are helped by an unpopular president heading the ballot in Oklahoma.
“That helps to have a strong person on top of the ticket like Mitt Romney,” he said. “But I just think Republican enthusiasm across the state is off the charts and so that's going to help us, too. We think we've certainly got the wind in our sail and the momentum going into Tuesday.”