Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Party Leaders Optimistic about Future of State House Elections

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Party Leaders Optimistic about Future of State House Elections

Article excerpt

Prior to the 2004 elections, Republicans were confident that they could pick up enough seats to take over the majority of the state House. The level of success was surprising even to those who predicted the power shift.

Democrats held a 52-49 lead going into the 2004 elections but now find themselves behind by a 57-44 deficit, with an opportunity to pick up 29 seats if every race resulted in victory. However, only a handful of those seats are considered in play, and it is unlikely that Democrats will regain the majority on Tuesday night.

Twenty open seats are being contested while another 28 races feature an incumbent with at least one opponent. Four of the races feature three opponents, but only one of those involves an incumbent.

Oklahoma Democratic Party chairwoman Lisa Pryor said she is hopeful that the Democrats can pick up at least two seats that seem to be in play, in House District 45 and House District 94.

Former legislator Wallace Collins is expected to do well against state Rep. Thad Balkman, R-Norman, in a district that is considered winnable by both parties. Collins was defeated by Balkman in 2000, but is polling well in a district that is considered up for grabs.

"People have had a gutful of Thad Balkman and his bullying in the district," Pryor said.

The open seat in House District 94 is between Democrat Scott Inman and Republican Rex Barrett, both of Del City. The seat was previously held by state Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Del City, who ran for Congress this year.

Pryor said that Inman was a quality candidate running a good campaign and that the voters would recognize that he would best represent their values. State Rep. Trebor Worthen, R-Oklahoma City, disagreed and said Barrett had the best chance of winning.

"That's a seat that's a very Republican-leaning seat," he said.

Worthen said Republicans feel strongly about their chances of picking up another seat in House Districts 62, 50, 93 and 25. …

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