Republicans Dominate in Kansas and Oklahoma

KSCB News - November 5, 2014 5:55 am

GOP Kansas governor wins tough re-election race

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Republican Governor Sam Brownback has narrowly won re-election in Kansas against a Democratic opponent who attempted to make their race a referendum on the incumbent’s tax cuts.

Brownback’s race with Democratic challenger Paul Davis remained close as ballots from Tuesday’s election were counted, but voters gave the incumbent a second, four-year term.

The governor successfully pushed the GOP-dominated Legislature during his first term to slash personal income taxes to boost the state’s economy. The state cut its top rate by 26 percent and exempted the owners of 191,000 businesses from income taxes altogether.

The cuts gave Brownback a national reputation in conservative circles.

Davis argued that the cuts wrecked the state’s finances and endangered education funding.

Republicans painted Davis as a liberal supporter of Democratic President Barack Obama.


Republican Sen. Roberts wins re-election in Kansas

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) – Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts has won re-election while turning back a challenge from suburban Kansas City businessman Greg Orman.

Roberts’ victory Tuesday continues a dominating streak for Kansas Republicans, who have not lost a U.S. Senate race since 1932.

But it didn’t come easy.

Roberts first survived a close GOP primary against a tea party challenger. Then Orman emerged a formidable independent candidate after the Democratic nominee dropped out.

Orman asserted Roberts had become part of the partisan gridlock in Washington after spending 18 years in the Senate and 16 before that in the U.S. House.

Roberts told voters his re-election was essential to Republican hopes of gaining control of the Senate and standing up to President Barack Obama. His campaign was aided by numerous high-profile Republicans.


Kobach re-elected as Kansas secretary of state

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Republican Kris Kobach has won re-election as Kansas secretary of state after championing photo ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements for voters.

Kobach won a second, four-year term in Tuesday’s election by defeating Democrat and former state Sen. Jean Schodorf of Wichita.

The key issues were policies Kobach advocated as the state’s top elections official.

A 2012 law enacted at his urging requires all voters to show photo ID at the polls. A 2013 law requires new voters to provide proof of their U.S. citizenship when registering.

Kobach said the policies prevent election fraud. Critics argued that they suppress turnout.

More than 20,000 Kansas residents’ voter registrations are on hold because they haven’t provided proof of citizenship.

Schodorf voted for both policies as a legislator but said Kobach administered them poorly.


Republican elected top Kansas insurance regulator

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Republican accountant and industry executive has won the Kansas insurance commissioner’s race without the backing of the retiring, three-term GOP incumbent.

Ken Selzer of Leawood defeated Democrat Dennis Anderson of Overland Park in Tuesday’s election. Anderson operates a family business providing educational services to insurance and financial services firms.

The Democrat was endorsed by retiring GOP Commissioner Sandy Praeger. But Praeger had broken with fellow Republicans by not harshly criticizing the federal health care overhaul championed by Democratic President Barack Obama.

Both Anderson and Praeger favor expanding the state’s Medicaid program for the poor and disabled in line with the federal law. Selzer opposes the idea.

The state’s GOP leanings helped Selzer, and he raised nearly $147,000 in cash contributions after last July, compared with Anderson’s $95,000.


Kansas Attorney General Schmidt wins re-election

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Republican Derek Schmidt has won re-election as Kansas attorney general against an underfinanced Democratic opponent.

Schmidt prevailed in Tuesday’s election over Democrat and Topeka attorney A.J. Kotich (KOH’-tich).

Schmidt won his first four-year term in 2010.

He filed a petition last month with the Kansas Supreme Court to overturn an order from the chief district court judge in Johnson County clearing the way for the state’s first legal gay marriage. The same-sex wedding took place, but the Supreme Court blocked further marriages until the case is heard.

Kotich is a former special assistant attorney general and chief counsel for two state agencies, but he raised only about $24,000 in cash contributions for his campaign through late October.

Schmidt has raised more than $490,000 since the start of 2013.


GOP state treasurer in Kansas wins 2nd term

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas voters have re-elected Republican Ron Estes (EH’-stuhs) as state treasurer following a low-key race against an underfinanced Democratic opponent.

Estes easily won Tuesday’s election against Democrat Carmen Alldritt.

The Republican will serve a second, four-year term. He served six years as Sedgwick County treasurer before winning his first term for the state office in 2010.

Estes pushed successfully for a law barring elected officials from appearing in or having their names used in public service announcements within 60 days of an election.

He raised about $84,000 for his campaign from the start of 2013 through October.

Alldritt entered the race in June and raised less than $9,400.

She was Harper County treasurer before serving as the Department of Revenue’s director of vehicles for seven years, starting in 2003.


Kansas voters legalize charity fundraising raffles

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas has legalized charity fundraising raffles.

Voters approved an amendment to the state constitution in Tuesday’s election. The measure allows nonprofit, religious, veterans and other organizations to hold raffles as fundraisers.

But organizations will not be allowed to sell raffle tickets through electronic gambling or vending machines or contract with professional lottery or raffle companies to operate their contests.

Legislators sought to allow such contests by law in 2013, but Republican Governor Sam Brownback vetoed the measure, seeing a violation of the state constitution.

The constitution originally prohibited all forms of lotteries. Under existing Kansas law, raffles are essentially private lotteries.

Kansas now has a state lottery and state-owned casinos, but they’re permitted under a 1986 amendment making an exception to the overall ban on lotteries.


Inhofe secures another 6-year term in US Senate

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe has defeated a Democratic challenger and three independents, securing another six-year term in office.

The 79-year-old Inhofe is Oklahoma’s senior U.S. senator. He first won the seat in a special election 20 years ago.

Inhofe is positioned to become the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee if Republicans take control of the Senate.

Inhofe had a huge advantage in fundraising and name recognition over Democratic challenger Matt Silverstein, a 34-year-old investment planner and political newcomer from Bixby.

Silverstein hammered Inhofe for not participating in any debates. Inhofe countered that people already know who he is and where he stands on issues.

Inhofe was first elected to the Legislature in 1966 and also served as Tulsa mayor and in the U.S. House.


Republican Lankford wins open US Senate seat

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican James Lankford has won election to the open U.S. Senate seat in Oklahoma being vacated by Doctor Tom Coburn.

A two-term congressman from Edmond, Lankford topped Democrat Connie Johnson and independent Mark Beard in the race to fill the seat for the final two years of Coburn’s term. Lankford will have to run again in 2016 for a full six-year term.

The 46-year-old Lankford is a longtime Baptist minister who spent more than a decade as director of Falls Creek, one of the largest Christian youth camps in the country with more than 50,000 attendees annually.

He was a political novice in 2010 when he won an open U.S. House seat. He then rose quickly among the leadership ranks.


Russell elected to Oklahoma’s 5th District seat

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican Steve Russell has won an open U.S. House seat representing central Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District.

The former state senator defeated Democratic state Senator Al McAffrey in Tuesday’s election. The seat is being vacated by Republican Congressman now U.S. Senator-elect James Lankford.

Russell says the United States’ economy, its relationship with other nations and the rise of Islamic extremists are among issues he was most questioned about by voters during the campaign.

Russell is a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose career culminated with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He wrote the book "We Got Him," about his unit’s role in the hunt for and capture of Saddam Hussein. He regularly speaks at events across the nation.

The district includes most of Oklahoma County and Seminole and Pottawatomie counties to the east.


GOP Rep. Tom Cole re-elected in 4th District

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican Congressman Tom Cole has been re-elected to a seventh term.

Cole defeated Democrat Bert Smith and independent Dennis Johnson in Tuesday’s election in Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District. This is the fifth time Smith has run unsuccessfully for Congress.

Cole is a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and of the House Budget Committee.

Cole says he represents the views and values of his constituents.


GOP Rep. Frank Lucas re-elected in 3rd District

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican Congressman Frank Lucas has won re-election to an 11th term in Congress.

Lucas defeated Democrat Frankie Robbins in Tuesday’s election after easily dispatching two GOP challengers in the June primary.

Lucas is chairman of the powerful House Agricultural Committee. He has said he takes no race for granted, despite being heavily favored for re-election. He also has said he’s "very focused" on the 3rd District that includes much of the northwestern half of Oklahoma.


Mullin re-elected to US House in 2nd District

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin has been re-elected to a second term, defeating an independent candidate who was the only challenger left after the death of the Democratic candidate.

Mullin defeated independent candidate Jon Douthitt in Tuesday’s election. Democrat Earl Everett died Sunday after sustaining injuries in a traffic accident last week, during the early-voting period.

Mullin represents the 2nd District in eastern Oklahoma.

He was first elected two years ago. He’s a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.


Republicans maintain control of Oklahoma House

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republicans will have control of the Oklahoma Legislature once again.

GOP candidates defeated enough Democrats on Tuesday to clinch at least 51 seats in the 101-member House. Republicans had a 72-29 advantage in the chamber before the election.

Republicans will also maintain control of the state Senate. Republicans had a 36-12 majority in the 48-member Senate before Tuesday’s election. Only 12 Senate seats were up for grabs and Democrats could not have won control of the chamber. They will have at least 25 of the posts next year.

Democrats targeted Republican-controlled House seats they considered vulnerable and were hoping to win back a chamber it lost in 2004 after 80 years of majority status. Republicans gained control of the Senate in 2008.


Todd Lamb wins second term as lieutenant governor

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb has won a second four-year term as the state’s second-in-charge.

Lamb defeated Democrat Cathy Cummings in Tuesday’s election.

Lamb, a former state senator, stressed job creation and job expansion as he campaigned for re-election. Lamb serves as the small business advocate on Governor Mary Fallin’s cabinet. Lamb says he has been a team member in an economic development effort that has been a national leader in job growth and produced an unemployment rate consistently below the national average.

A former special agent with the U.S. Secret Service, Lamb chaired the Oklahoma School Security Commission formed after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at a school in Connecticut in December 2012. The commission’s work led to legislation designed to make Oklahoma schools safer.


Republican Hofmeister wins Oklahoma schools post

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Former state Board of Education member Joy Hofmeister has become only the second Republican since statehood to be elected as Oklahoma’s top schools chief.

Hofmeister defeated Democrat John Cox on Tuesday.

To advance to the general election, Hofmeister trounced the incumbent superintendent of public instruction, Janet Barresi, in the GOP primary.

Hofmeister has called for curbing what she believes is excessive testing of students done at the expense of more quality learning in classrooms. She’s also called for boosting teacher pay and developing incentives to keep talented educators in Oklahoma.

Hofmeister says she’ll be able to work with the GOP-dominated Legislature to accomplish her goals.

She has spent the past 15 years operating a franchise of math and reading centers that cater to private, public, charter and home-schooled kids.


Costello re-elected as Oklahoma labor commissioner

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Republican Commissioner of Labor Mark Costello has won a second four-year term following a low-key campaign against a Democratic former public school band director from Tulsa.

Costello was re-elected in Tuesday’s election in which he faced Democrat Mike Workman.

Costello says that during his four years in office he has worked to bring the agency into the 21st century by deploying new technology to make it more efficient and its services more convenient for taxpayers.

Workman had criticized the incumbent for closing the agency’s office in Tulsa last year. Costello has said the closure was due to federal budget cuts. He says the office was underused and that technology upgrades had allowed much of the agency’s professional licensing services to be conducted online.


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