Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Senate Election on Nov. 4 Could Make History

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Oklahoma Senate Election on Nov. 4 Could Make History

Article excerpt

The head of the Oklahoma Republican Party says it's going to be tough. The head of the Oklahoma Democratic Party says he honestly doesn't know how it all will turn out.

The Nov. 4 election will determine whether Democrats regain control of the Senate, or if Republicans will make history by claiming a majority in the Senate for the first time. Or, the improbable could happen once more - the election could result in another tie vote.

The 2006 elections created an unprecedented political situation in the state Senate. Prior to the 2006 election, Democrats held the thinnest possible majority, with 25 of the Senate's 48 members. Legislation cannot pass out of the Senate unless at least 25 senators vote yes on a bill.

The numbers in the Senate began to shift in the summer of 2006, when Republican Nancy Riley switched parties, giving the Democrats a two-seat lead over their Republican counterparts. But when voters went to the polls in November 2006, they elected two more Republicans to the Senate, putting both parties on equal footing for the Senate for the first time in state history with a 24-24 split. The makeup of the Senate now prevents any legislation from passing without a bipartisan vote.

The highest-ranking members of the two political parties in the Senate worked out an agreement that gave the parties equal power. Sen. Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, was named Senate president pro tempore and Sen. Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, was named co- president pro tempore. Committees were assigned co-chairmen, and both parties had equal power to get their bills heard in the Senate Chamber. Democrats have the slight advantage of having Democrat Jari Askins in the role of lieutenant governor, who has the ability to cast tie-breaking votes in the Senate.

On Nov. 4, Rep. Jerry Ellis of Valliant seeks to replace outgoing Democrat Jeff Rabon in Senate District 5, but he faces newcomer Patrick Miller, a Republican from Snow. …

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