After two tries, Republican Katie Henke wins clear victory in House District 71
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
11/07/12 at 12:19 AM
Despite voting machine troubles for the second election in a row, Republican Katie Henke won the House District 71 race Tuesday.
Results in one precinct were frozen much of the night, forcing a hand recount, Assistant Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Shelly Boggs said.
Eleven voting machines countywide were unable to report results, requiring recounts, Boggs said.
In an April special election to fill the same seat, Democrat Dan Arthrell was initially declared the unofficial winner by three votes.
But a subsequent recount led to Henke being certified the winner by one vote.
Hours after the recount ended, Tulsa County election officials discovered two unsecured ballots for Arthrell still sitting in an election machine, leading the state Supreme Court to declare that it was impossible to determine who had won.
The seat remained vacant throughout the legislative session.
Despite Tuesday night’s problems, the results were clear. Henke had a margin of about 900 votes with only about 600 votes unaccounted for in the troubled machine.
Ultimately, Arthrell conceded.
“We did the best that we can do,” Arthrell said, adding that he had offered Henke any support needed in her new post.
Henke thanked her family and volunteers for their efforts, but said the night’s election problems caused some unsettled moments.
“There were some flashbacks,” she said, “But we had a great feeling. It was a different feeling from last time.
“We ran a great campaign and are very proud of everyone involved,” Henke said.
Statewide — in an election that brought more than 1.2 million Oklahomans to the polls — Republicans retained their overwhelming partisan control over both houses of the Oklahoma Legislature.
The emblem of the Republican domination came in Senate District 7, where Republican Larry Boggs of Wilburton defeated Democrat J. Paul Lane of McAlester. The District 7 seat was held by Democratic giant Gene Stipe for more than 50 years.
In Tulsa, Republican Sen. Brian Crain was re-elected in Senate District 39, defeating Democratic challenger Julie Hall.
Crain said he was honored and humbled by the confidence shown by the voters.
“I am very proud and honored that the people of Senate District 39 have placed their confidence in me,” Crain said. “I’m looking forward to working for the people of Tulsa for the next four years.”
With 37 of 38 precincts reporting, Crain had more than 57 percent of the vote and a 4,600-vote margin.
In House District 23, voters elected Republican Terry O’Donnell of Catoosa to take the seat held for 12 years by Rep. Sue Tibbs, who died earlier this year.
“I look forward to continuing the conservative and common-sense values that Sue Tibbs brought to the Legislature,” O’Donnell said. “Our district has incredible potential, and I’m committed to make it an even better place to work and live.”
The district was expanded east by legislative redistricting last year to include fast-growing Rogers County suburban areas to its traditional east Tulsa constituency.
O’Donnell said the competition with Democratic candidate Shawna Keller was close in the Tulsa portions of the district, but he pulled ahead with strong returns in the Rogers County precincts.
He credited the support of his in-laws — Georgia and Terry McAfee — who have been respected leaders in the area for decades, for helping bring in that vote.
In Senate District 11, Democratic Rep. Jabar Shumate easily defeated a Republican and an independent candidate to succeed Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre.
“I’m very honored and a quite humbled that I was able to earn the trust and respect of the people,” Shumate said.
He said following in the footsteps of a “state Senate giant” will be difficult, but he looks forward to working for improving the education system and the economic prospects of north Tulsa.
Katie Henke (left) hugs friend Ashley Weisz as they watch Henke jump into the lead in her race. CORY YOUNG/Tulsa World