In a result sure to surprise some, House Minority Leader Steve Kouplen (D-Beggs) has lost to Republican Logan Phillips. Not only does Kouplen’s loss mean Democrats will choose a new leader in the House, it underscores a continued transition of eastern Oklahoma from blue to red.
In a year when 12 incumbent Republicans had already lost, the defeat of additional lawmakers will cause an even larger wave of new legislators. One state senator and five representatives lost seats in the June 26 primary and six more representatives lost in the August 28 runoff-primary.
But Kouplen — who had not faced a challenger since 2008 — became the first incumbent Democratic legislator to lose in 2018, and two other House Democrats have joined him in defeat.
Incumbent Rep. Donnie Condit (D-McAlester) has lost to Republican David Smith by 341 votes. While he defeated Democratic challengers in 2012 and 2016, Condit had not faced a Republican since 2010.
Rep. Karen Gaddis (D-Tulsa) also lost to Republican T.J. Marti in HD 45. Gaddis has only held the seat since a 2017 special election.
Additionally, House districts 6 and 15 flipped from blue to red after Republicans took control of previously-Democratic seats that were term limited. Republican Randy Randleman won HD 15 in McAlester. Donut store owner and commercial hunting area owner Rusty Cornwell won HD 6 in Vinita.
Metros turning blue, rural areas going red
In the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Republicans gained a total of three seats by ousting three Democrats, flipping four previously-Democratic seats and winning a vacant district. Democrats flipped four formerly-Republican seats. The Democrats’ gains were all in Oklahoma City or Tulsa metro areas. Each party retained one open seat that they had held previously.
In the Oklahoma State Senate, Democrats turned two seats blue but failed to retain the seat of term-limited Sen. Randy Bass (D-Lawton).
Of the 12 legislators who lost elections before Tuesday, eight of them voted against HB 1010XX, which funded the teacher pay raise. Education has been a primary issue for many voters this cycle, and the no-voters drew numerous challengers.
Heading into Election Day, the House contained 72 Republicans, 27 Democrats and two vacancies. The Senate contained 38 Republicans, eight Democrats and two vacancies that had been held by Republicans.
In Oklahoma, any tax-increasing measure must receive a three-fourths majority in either chamber and a gubernatorial veto-override requires a two-thirds majority in both chambers.
That means there will be no supermajority changes in either chamber.
Before Tuesday, 22 House members and four Senate members had secured their seats for the 2019 session.
Non-incumbent seats flip
As mentioned above, Cornwell won HD 6 as a Republican, meaning Rep. Chuck Hoskin’s (D-Vinita) former blue seat is now red. Cornwell defeated Democrat John L. Myers.
Ed Cannaday’s (D-Porum) former HD 15 seat turned red when Randleman defeated Democrat Judy Ross Moore.
Brian Renegar’s (D-McAlester) former HD 17 seat turned red when Jim Grego defeated Democrat Peggy DeFrange.
Democrats were able to secure HD 45, which was previously vacant following the death of Rep. Claudia Griffith, who was running for Senate District 16 at the time. Merleyn Bell defeated Republican Marc Etters and independent Tom Hackelman in HD 45.
Republicans kept vacant HD 61 Republican with the election of Kenton Patzkowsky, who defeated Democrat Ashley Lehnert.
Democrat Denise Brewer flipped HD 71, which was formerly held by Rep. Katie Henke (R-Tulsa). Brewer defeated Republican Cheryl Baber.
In HD 79, Democrat Melissa Provenzano proved effective against Republican Dan Hicks. Rep. Weldon Watson’s (R-Tulsa) formerly red seat is now blue.
Democrat Chelsey Branham managed to turn Rep. Randy McDaniel’s (R-Edmond) HD 83 seat blue by defeating Republican Jason Reese.
Republican David Hardin won Rep. William Fourkiller’s (D-Stilwell) former HD 86 seat, defeating Democrat Rhonda Cox.
In HD 95, Democrat Kelly Albright took the seat of Rep. Roger Ford’s (R-Midwest City) by defeating Republican Jack Beall Jr.
Democrat Julia Kirt turned the vacant SD 30 seat blue by defeating Republican John Symcox.
Sen. Ervin Yen (R-OKC) lost earlier this year in SD 40, and Democrat Carri Hicks turned that seat blue. She defeated Republican Joe Howell and independent Christopher Hensley.
Full results can be found here, and the following spreadsheet shows full lists of House and Senate seats:
(Editor’s note: This story was updated to note the correct number of blue seats flipped red at 8 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 8. William W. Savage III contributed to this report. All results listed are unofficial and may change slightly as final precincts are counted. The Oklahoma State Election Board is schedule to certify election results by the end of the week.)