The Oklahoma Public Employees Political Action Committee (OPEAPAC) and OPEA endorsed candidates fared well in a historic election in Oklahoma. Given this election’s changing tides and surprises, OPEA’s success in electing 38 endorsed candidates shows the political strength of our organization.
The biggest event of the evening for state employees was the defeat of State Question 744. OPEA was in on the ground floor of the ONE Oklahoma Coalition, which grew to become one of the most powerful coalitions in history. In spite of the opposition’s millions in out-of-state contributions and endless TV advertisements, the coalition’s grassroots efforts and newspaper editorial campaign prevailed
OPEAPAC members worked very hard over the last several months scrutinizing candidates on their records, conducting candidate interviews,and reviewing questionnaires. OPEAPAC thanks all OPEA members that expressed their views and opinions regarding the candidate endorsement process during this election cycle. We also want to thank members and staff that volunteered their time and resources for OPEA endorsed candidates.
“OPEAPAC endorsed candidates on both sides of the aisle,” said OPEAPAC Executive Trustee Steve Paris. “With 38 of our candidates winning the election, OPEA will have new friends in the legislature during these challenging times.”
OPEA staff and members across the state spent untold hours volunteering their time in campaigns. Their efforts will pay off as session begins and legislators are able to put a face to state employee issues.
A total of 57 legislative seats were up for election Tuesday. Republicans won 33 of the 47 seats up for grabs in the House and seven of the 10 seats for which there were general election campaigns in the Senate. Combined with Republican Congresswoman’s Mary Fallin’s victory in the gubernatorial race, the 52nd Legislature will mark the first time in Oklahoma history that the state’s chief executive and legislative majorities have been Republicans.
Regarding the State Senate; Republicans were guaranteed at least a one-seat margin in the Senate going into Tuesday’s general election, but they saw that advantage grow significantly by the end of the night. Republicans won seven of the 10 Senate campaigns contested Tuesday.
Regarding the State House; prior to this year’s elections, the Republicans held a 62-to-39 advantage over Democrats in the House. With the completion of Tuesday’s election, that lead increased to 70 Republicans over 31 Democrats.
Statewide office went to the Republican candidates Tuesday night Governor Mary Fallin, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb, Treasurer Ken Miller, Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, Insurance Commissioner John Doak, Education Secretary Janet Baressi, and Labor Commissioner Mark Costello. OPEA is disappointed with the defeat of Kim Holland for Insurance Commissioner. She was a leader in insurance reform and understood the need to keep insurance for state employees affordable and expand choice in the rural areas. OPEA had worked closely with her on accomplishing these goals.
OPEA has been working to build a bi-partisan coalition of legislators that understand state employee issues and will stand up for the state employees not only in open committee meetings, but also in the Senate and Democratic caucus. This was clear when OPEA honored champions for state employees at the annual convention from both political parties. One of our champions, Senator Brian Bingman, has gathered the votes to be the President Pro Tempore on organizational day in January.
“OPEA staff and OPEAPAC members will continue over the coming weeks to visit with our elected leaders,” said OPEA Executive Director Sterling Zearley. “We will be sharing our concerns regarding state employee issues for the upcoming session and educating them on issues that affect state employees and the Oklahomans we serve.”