Back in September, former Sen. Bryce Marlatt resigned from his Senate District 27 seat following charges of sexual battery against an Uber driver. A crowded field of six Republican contenders and one Democrat stepped up with hopes to take his place in the conservative panhandle district.
With 33.19 percent of the vote, current House District 61 Rep. Casey Murdock (R-Felt) emerged victorious in a special December primary. Now, with a critical vote on the proposed Step Up Oklahoma plan expected to occur today, Murdock finds himself in the singular position of being a sitting legislator who has to vote on an enormous revenue package one day before an election for higher office. Murdock has also been caught between his support for two feuding energy industries all during one of the most tenuous budget crises in state history. His potential victory is further complicated by the slim chance he could end up voting on the Step Up Oklahoma plan twice — once as a representative and then again as a senator, should the legislative process play out that way.
Murdock faces further pressure from Democrat opponent Amber Jensen. The lone Democrat to step up after Marlatt stepped down, Jensen’s potential victory would constitute a major sea change in this largely rural district, which has elected Republican House members for the past two decades. As at least one previous special election in Oklahoma has shown, however, voters in Oklahoma’s political climate have been known to upset conventional wisdom (Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, anyone?).
The Senate District 27 general election will take place Tuesday for registered voters in northwest Oklahoma, including those in Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Woods and Woodward counties as well as throughout the panhandle. Early voting began Thursday. Candidates are as follows in alphabetical order:
Amber Jensen, 36, Woodward
Profession: Small-business owner
Experience: As a political newcomer, Jensen cites her time as a military wife and volunteer as precedent for civic leadership.
Platform: Her campaign website lists education funding, health care access and the state budget as top priorities.
Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Casey Murdock, 47, Felt
Profession: Rancher and State Representative
Experience: Currently occupying a House seat for District 61, Murdock has served in this position since 2014.
Platform: Murdock cites rural schools and conservation districts in his About section. During the 2017 session, he authored eight bills, including the Blue Lives Matter in Oklahoma Act of 2017.
Links: Website | Facebook
(Editor’s note: Over the weekend, the Tulsa World reported that House District 51’s special election would also be held Tuesday, but that contest will actually be held March 6, according to the State Election Board.)