OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Republicans are on track to take over the Oklahoma Senate for the first time ever after retaining two Senate seats in the primary runoff election, a GOP Senate leader says.
Retired Army Col. Steve Russell, a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, got 67 percent of the vote to defeat businessman Kyle Loveless in District 45, comprised of parts of Oklahoma and Cleveland counties.
In Tulsa County's District 35 race, Gary Stanislawski, a financial planner, edged attorney Cason Carter by a razor-thin margin. Carter received the most votes in the primary.
Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said with the primary runoff completed, the GOP is in “excellent” shape to take control of the Senate, which now has 24 Democrats and 24 Republicans, the only tied legislative chamber in the country.
Since no Democrats filed, the winner of the two GOP Senate runoffs were elected. The runoffs were set up because no one got more than 50 percent of the vote in the July 29 primary.
In Republican House races, Harold Wright of Weatherford defeated Lyle Miller of Clinton by eight votes out of nearly 1,800 votes cast in District 57, comprised mostly of southwestern Oklahoma.
Mike Sanders defeated Chris Cameron in District 59 in northwestern Oklahoma. In the District 72 Democratic race in Tulsa County, Seneca Scott defeated Christie Breedlove.
All the winning House contestants in Tuesday's runoff face opponents in November.
Republicans now hold a 57-44 edge in the House, but Rep. Danny Morgan, Democratic House leader, said Democrats will pick up seats in the general election and could take control.
“I think it is very realistic that we could be in the majority after Nov. 4,” Morgan said Tuesday night as he touted the quality of Democratic House candidates.
House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, has predicted the GOP could gain a couple seats, however.
Voting was light across the state because there were no statewide or congressional runoff races.
Coffee said with Tuesday's vote, Republicans already are assured of having 19 senators in office before the general election.
“I think it shapes up very nicely for us,” Coffee said from Stillwater, where he was campaigning with Jim Halligan, a former Oklahoma State University president and a GOP Senate candidate.
“If we do our job, we have a great opportunity on our hands,” Coffee said.
Halligan is running against Democrat Bob Murphy for the post being vacated by Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater.
It is one of two races targeted by Republicans in districts now held by Democrats.
The other is in Tulsa County, where incumbent Democrat Nancy Riley is being challenged by Republican Dan Newberry in November. Riley's switch from Republican to Democrat denied the GOP a majority two years ago.