Kyle Hilbert speaker elect
Speaker-designee Kyle Hilbert (R-Bristow) gestures to House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) during a press conference announcing Hilbert's Republican Caucus designation as the next speaker of the House. (Tres Savage)

As Speaker Charles McCall introduced the man fellow Republican House members had just chosen as the designee to succeed him this morning, he stepped to the side and let Rep. Kyle Hilbert take the podium.

“Remember, Kyle,” McCall said with a grin. “You asked for it.”

Hilbert returned the favor with a joke of his own by referencing that McCall has been speaker during all eight of Hilbert’s years in office.

“He is the best speaker I’ve ever served under,” Hilbert said.

Barring some massive change between now and the Legislature’s formal vote on organizational day in November, Hilbert, 29, will become the youngest speaker of the House in Oklahoma history. Asked about his youthful exuberance, Hilbert referenced Americans’ pain seeing “octogenarian politicians” in Washington and said he will be able to relate to the lives of many Oklahomans as a parent raising small children.

“It’s an exciting time. When you look at census data for the state of Oklahoma, there are more Oklahomans under 40 than over 40,” Hilbert said. “I think (there is benefit) having a speaker of the House who has a young family and knows what it’s like [when] mom and dad are working but you also have kids and the challenges of trying to find daycare or daycare closes for a day or childcare closes. What does that look like?”

McCall (R-Atoka) called Hilbert “capable” and “experienced,” noting his service as vice chairman of the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee before he became House speaker pro tempore — the second-highest-ranking position in the body — in February 2022.

“He has come into this body eight years ago, which was my first term that I found myself as speaker of the House,” McCall said. “Kyle has worked through the absolute worst times in state history as I have and emerging to the best times in state history that we see today. I’m very confident that Kyle Hilbert will continue to lead the House of Representatives to better and greater things.”

Hilbert said that is a good benchmark for legislative service.

“The question is did you make it better tomorrow than it was yesterday,” he said.

Sources: Two-thirds support for Kyle Hilbert

From left: House Appropriations and Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace, House Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Hilbert and Senate Appropriations and Budget Vice Chairman Chuck Hall converse Thursday, May 11, 2023, during a meeting of the Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding. (Tres Savage)

With 81 members, the Republican Caucus constitutes a supermajority in the 101-member House. Speaking on the condition of anonymity, people with information about Monday’s vote said Hilbert won on the first ballot by receiving 54 votes, or two-thirds support.

Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) and Rep. Kevin West (R-Moore) split the remaining votes.


Greg McCortney president pro tempore

GOP members choose Sen. Greg McCortney as president pro tempore designee by Tres Savage

“I’m very happy with the whole entire process. Everything was above board,” West said. “Really, to me it came down to a question of the style of leadership. I look forward to working with Pro Tem Hilbert as he moves forward in his new role as speaker designate.”

West noted that the House GOP leader-designee race did not draw the same contentions and campaigning from outside groups that defined the final days of the Senate GOP race.

“No it didn’t, and I’m very grateful for that as well,” West said.

Sims agreed, saying he was “honored to be in the mix.”

“I was just really proud of my colleagues and proud of our caucus for the way the race was run. It was very respectful,” Sims said. “We’d heard all the horror stories about the past speaker races and how divisive they can be, and I really thought that inside the caucus room and out we handled it very professionally.”

In February, Republican senators selected Senate Floor Leader Greg McCortney (R-Ada) to succeed Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC). Between Treat and McCall’s departures from the Legislature later this year, 2025 will feature new leadership in both chambers.

Rep. Josh West (R-Grove) is widely viewed a leading candidate to assume a leadership role under Hilbert. Asked about rumors that he will be the next House majority floor leader — an influential position being vacated by term-limited Rep. Jon Echols (R-OKC) — West simply congratulated Hilbert.

“I’m excited for Kyle with his upcoming role, but I’m also excited for the state of Oklahoma,” Josh West said. “Kyle is a capable and confident leader, and I’m proud of the campaign he ran. This was 15 months in the making, and our team stuck with the plan and message, and it paid off. Now the work begins.”

Hilbert said during Monday’s press conference that McCall still has plenty of work to do this session and that he appreciates his wisdom and leadership.

“You’re not done yet, we’ve still got some work out of you still to come,” Hilbert said, turning to media to speak about McCall. “But when his time is over, he could look back and know that he did a phenomenal job.”

(Update: This article was updated at 2:45 p.m. Monday, March 4, to include comment from Rep. Lonnie Sims.)