Thursday, June 5, 2008

Senate Republicans Giddy After Filings

The candidate filing period ended Wednesday with Senate Republicans in what appears to be an unprecedented position to achieve the majority for the first time in Oklahoma history this year.

With eight Senate seats uncontested by Democrats in 2008 and eleven carry-over Senators not on the ballot this year, Republicans go into Election Day with a 19-18 advantage, strategists say.

“We don’t claim for one minute that it will be easy, but we feel very good about our chances to be the majority party in the Senate following the November elections,” said Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee. “Our candidate recruitment efforts, headed by Senator Todd Lamb, were extremely successful.”

Of the thirteen current Republican-held seats on the ballot in 2008, Democrats contested only five, or 38% of the seats.

“When filing closed, Senators Patrick Anderson, Brian Crain, John Ford, Ron Justice and Mike Mazzei were automatically returned to office without opposition,” Coffee said. “In addition, three seats in Senate Districts 35 (Tulsa), 45 (Oklahoma/Cleveland/Canadian Counties) and 47 (OKC/Edmond) will be decided during the Primary election season, as no Democrats filed for those seats.

“This is unprecedented success for Republicans in the Oklahoma Senate,” Coffee continued. “We also feel very strongly about our ability to retain all of the currently Republican-held seats, as well as picking up Democrat seats in Stillwater and Tulsa.

“And, we think we’ll surprise people in at least one or more other seats,” Coffee said. “We’re bullish on our prospects in 2008.”

To break the current tie and attain a majority in the State Senate, Republicans must win six of the eleven contested seats, while Democrats must prevail in seven of the eleven contested seats.

Coffee cited strong top-of-ticket assistance from U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, the Oklahoma Congressional delegation, and Oklahoma voters’ preference for John McCain over Barack Obama to boost strong State Senate Candidates in rural areas of the state.

“And finally, we have the issues and ideas on our side,” Coffee said. “Oklahoma voters are responding to our leadership on building and maintaining our states roads and bridges; tax relief; pro-family values issues; government accountability; education; and on ethics in government.

“The race is on, and we’re ready to lead,” Coffee concluded.

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