Dark-horse candidate J.J. Dossett upset Republican hopeful David McLain Tuesday in the special election for Oklahoma’s District 34 Senate, a position which vacated in August after the resignation of Rick Brinkley.
As of 8:27 p.m. Tuesday night, all precincts had reported, and Dossett emerged victorious with 56.31 percent of the vote compared to McLain’s 43.69 percent. A total of 3,859 votes were cast.
Dossett’s election represents a changing of the guard for the district, long dominated by Republican candidates. The special election result immediately drew comparisons to Democrat Cyndi Munson’s House District 85 win in September 2015. Dossett is the first Democrat since 1990 elected to the Senate seat, which is largely comprised of Owasso, Collinsville and part of Skiatook.
Latest in a string of surprises
Back in September, during NonDoc’s infancy, we reported about the ongoing tumult in District 34. First, Republican minister and former Sen. Rick Brinkley resigned Aug. 20 following a plea of guilty to federal embezzlement charges of about $1.8 million from Tulsa’s Better Business Bureau. The diverted funds were reported to fuel Brinkley’s gambling habit.
As a result of time remaining on the embattled senator’s term, a special election was set. Randy Brogdon, at the time serving as Oklahoma’s GOP chairman, was speculated to be the frontrunner for the seat that he previously held before running unsuccessfully for governor in 2010.
Lo and behold, more surprises befell the state’s Republican leadership when Brogdon unexpectedly resigned from that post, ostensibly owing to controversial moves made during his tenure. Brogdon was eventually replaced by Pam Pollard, and he did not run for Senate District 34.
Underdog has his day
In the wake of Brinkley’s exit, five Republican and two Democrat candidates filed as candidates. After the primary Nov. 10, J.J. Dosset on the left and David McLain on the right emerged as victors for their respective parties.
McLain, a pastor, veteran and small-business owner from Skiatook, ran a campaign complete with endorsements from Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow) and president pro tempore Sen. Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa), among others as noted on the Facebook wall for McLain’s District 34 bid.
Meanwhile, Owasso teacher, coach and veteran Dossett garnered hometown support of the police and fire departments as well as several education associations, as evidenced on his campaign’s Facebook wall.
District 34 has long been a bastion of Republican dominance. As reported Sunday in the Tulsa World:
A Republican stronghold for the past two decades, SD 34 has been decided in a general election only twice since 1994, the last time in 2006. The only reasonably close general election in that time was 14 years ago, in 2002, when Republican Randy Brogdon edged Democrat Mary Jane Tinkler by 3 percentage points.
Update: Early Wednesday morning, Dossett released a statement to NonDoc via email:
Tonight’s win shows that improving education in Oklahoma is a priority. Partisan rhetoric will not move District 34 or our state forward with safer neighborhoods and better jobs. I am ready to share the stories and voices of the people in Owasso, Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville and Tulsa to the Capitol and work for them. I will miss my kids at school, but I will take the lessons they have taught me to make our community stronger.