Democrat Vicki Behenna defeated Republican Kevin Calvey in a hotly contested race for Oklahoma County district attorney Tuesday.
Throughout her campaign, Behenna touted her credentials as a former federal prosecutor involved in the conviction of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. A withering TV ad in the closing days of the campaign painted Calvey as too erratic to hold the position of district attorney.
With all precincts reporting, Behenna won 54.4 percent of the vote to Calvey’s 45.61 percent.
“There’s a part of me that wants to start crying, but there’s a part of me that is so grateful that you all in Oklahoma County believe in me and believe in the mission of justice that you made me the first female district attorney,” Behenna said at her watch party Tuesday night.
Behenna told supporters she took her time in making a decision on whether to run.
“I mean, I’m looking around the room right now, people who came to me in April of last year saying, ‘Vicki, you need to run for district attorney.’ I took me a long time to reach this decision,” she said. “I feel so humbled that people believe in me and believe in my integrity and have elected me to this position.”
Behenna will succeed David Prater, who announced his retirement last year after 16 years in the position.
In the ad that aired on local television stations, Behenna used Calvey’s past comments about abortion in the Oklahoma Legislature against him.
“If I were not a Christian, and didn’t have a prohibition against suicide, I’d walk across the street and douse myself in gasoline and set myself on fire!” Calvey shouted in 2015 while serving as a state representative.
Behnna also hit Calvey hard on his past statements about prosecuting law enforcement during an Oct. 12 debate hosted by NonDoc. Calvey said he would not prosecute officers in the shooting death of Stavian Rodriguez. Prater charged five officers with first-degree manslaughter in the November 2020 shooting.
“Quite honestly, Mr. Calvey’s statements are pandering to law enforcement, in order to get their vote,” Behenna said in the October debate. “Nobody in their right mind who has ever prosecuted a case would look at a video on TV and decide that those charges were not proper. That’s what makes him so dangerous as a district attorney.”
Several negative headlines also plagued Calvey, who advanced to the general election by beating Oklahoma County Assistant DA Gayland Gieger in an August runoff. Days before he faced Gieger, The Oklahoman reported Calvey was under investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation regarding the alleged use of public funds for campaign expenditures.
In a strange press conference Aug. 22 outside Prater’s office, Calvey blamed Prater for the investigation and for leaking it to media. Prater crashed the press conference and denied talking to journalists about the inquiry.
In the days leading up to Tuesday’s election, Calvey returned money from a donor who has been accused of molesting children and it awaiting a retrial, according to a report in The Oklahoman.
The 56-year-old Calvey is the current Oklahoma County District 3 Commissioner, but he elected not to run for another term in that position this year. He is also a member of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority, which has come under fire for its management of the Oklahoma County Jail. The jail has seen 28 deaths in the last two years since the trust took over its day-to-day operations.
Behenna served on the team of federal prosecutors that convicted Timothy McVeigh in 1997. Outside the courtroom, Behenna also defended her son who was convicted of murdering Ali Mansur Mohamed during the occupation of Iraq in 2008. Michael Behenna maintained his innocence but was later sent to military prison. He was pardoned by former President Donald Trump in early 2021.
More recently, Behenna worked in private practice focusing on white collar defense, government relations and health care cases.
Stein holds on in county assessor race
Republican incumbent Larry Stein held on to defeat Democrat Nick Singer in the race for Oklahoma County assessor. Stein picked up 55 percent of the vote to 45 for Singer.
The Oklahoma County tax assessor is responsible for setting property values, both commercial and residential, in the county.
Stein was first elected in 2018, narrowly defeating former Democratic Rep. Mike Shelton. Among the issues Stein campaigned on was the modernization of his office.
“We are setting the standard for technology, and because of that technology we’re saving taxpayers money every day because we have 52 fewer employees than the Tax Commission estimates we’d need to handle the responsibilities that we take on,” Stein told The Oklahoman.
Singer is a realtor and executive director of Oklahoma Progress Now, a progressive policy organization.
Freeman wins ninth term as treasurer
Republican incumbent Oklahoma County Treasurer Butch Freeman won a ninth term in office Tuesday, defeating Democratic challenger Brandon Kirkpatrick.
Freeman, who was first elected in 1993, got 55.3 percent of the vote to 44.7 for Kirkpatrick, who grew up in Oklahoma City and Edmond and is a business person, according to his website.
Singleton defeats Kirby in judge race
Challenger Angela Singleton defeated incumbent Associate District Judge Richard Kirby, winning 58.7 percent of the vote to 41.3 for Kirby.
Singleton graduated University of Oregon law school in 2011 and worked as an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County prior to running for judge. She prosecuted homicides and other violent crimes while working in the Oklahoma County DA office.
Kirby was first elected as an associate district judge in Oklahoma County in 2007, and he initially served as the supervising judge for juvenile courts and later probate, adoptions and guardianships.
Savage wins District 7 judge race
In a battle of two Oklahoma County special judges, Kathryn Savage defeated James Siderias.
Savage got 65 percent of the vote to 35 percent for Siderias with about 96 percent of precincts reporting.
Savage has been a special judge since 2017 and previously worked as an assistant district attorney in Pottawatomie and Muskogee counties.
Siderias has been a special judge since 2020 handling child abuse and sex abuse cases.