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Romney wins Okla., GOP captures US House seats

Associated Press Modified: November 6, 2012 at 9:32 pm •  Published: November 6, 2012
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republicans completed a takeover of Oklahoma politics Tuesday, capturing the state's five congressional seats and handing Mitt Romney seven electoral votes with a victory over Barack Obama in a contest where the biggest suspense was whether the president could carry any of the state's 77 counties.

Plumbing company owner Markwayne Mullin, a political neophyte from Westville, claimed for Republicans a U.S. House seat in eastern Oklahoma given up by retiring Rep. Dan Boren, a Democrat. Navy pilot Jim Bridenstine won a seat in Congress from the Tulsa area for the GOP.

With victories by incumbent Reps. Tom Cole, James Lankford and Frank Lucas, the GOP now controls all of Oklahoma's Washington delegation, all statewide offices and both chambers of the state Legislature.

"When we were the reddest state in the country four years ago, it certainly helped a lot of our down-ballot races as well," said Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell, referring to 2008 when Republican nominee John McCain won every county in the state and captured 66 percent of the vote over Obama.

Romney's win in the state's general election was no surprise since a Democratic presidential candidate hasn't won in Oklahoma since Lyndon Johnson in 1964. Obama also performed poorly in the state's presidential primary this past March and received just 57 percent of the vote among Democrats in Oklahoma over four little-known candidates.

"Any Republican candidate that's running against Obama I like," said Roy Moore, a Muskogee stock broker who voted for the GOP nominee.

Republicans targeted the 2nd District seat as soon as Boren said last year that he wouldn't seek another term. Boren had seen his numbers drop in recent elections; the 26-county district that stretches from Kansas to Texas is traditionally Democratic, but has grown increasingly conservative.

Kenneth Crabtree, 52, a property manager from Muskogee, said he voted for Mullin to replace Boren, saying he liked that the GOP nominee was a small businessman and holds Christian values. He also voted for Romney because of the nation's recent economic woes.

"I've seen how the last four years have gone. Business is down and people are out of work," Crabtree said.

But Anita Weibel, 61, a retired Girl Scouts of America executive from Muskogee, said she voted for Democratic congressional nominee Wallace and for Obama.

"I'm a lifelong Democrat and I think we need a Democrat to support us in Congress," she said.

At the state level, Republicans are expected to maintain or build upon their majorities in the House and Senate. The GOP currently enjoys a 32-16 advantage in the state Senate, and already has added two seats by virtue of Democrats failing to field candidates in two districts where Democratic incumbents are stepping down. Republicans also are competing for three open seats previously held by Democrats, while defending just two Republican-held open seats.

In the House, where Republicans enjoy a 67-31 advantage with three seats vacant, there are 34 seats up for grabs in Tuesday's election. Sixteen Republican incumbents are facing challenges, along with seven Democrats. Eleven seats are open.

Oklahoma Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said early turnout has been heavy statewide and said voter turnout was "on track" to be the largest since the 2008 presidential election, when about 67 percent of the state's 2.1 million registered voters went to the polls.

Oklahomans voted to abolish affirmative action programs in state government and eliminate the intangible property tax businesses pay for such things as patents, trademarks and brand names.

Jenifer Peacock, 34, a sales trainer from Moore, said she voted to abolish affirmative action programs in state government because she considers them outdated.

"It just got me thinking about how antiquated the laws are," she said.

Other state questions approved will limit property tax increases, change the governor's role in the parole process and restructure the Department of Human Services. Also on the ballot was a proposal to let the Oklahoma Water Resources Board issue bonds.

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Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy


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