2016 local races take shape

Even though the November 2016 election is more than a year away, term limits are already sparking interest in legislative races in the Tulsa area.

Four long-time Tulsa legislators – Sen. Brian Crain, Sen. Mike Mazzei, Rep. Pam Peterson and Rep. Jeannie McDaniel – are limited to 12 years in office and are serving their last terms.

In Oklahoma, state representatives have two-year terms and senators serve four-year terms. Both are limited to 12 years of total time in office.

While every representative is on the ballot every even-numbered year, only odd-numbered senate districts will be on the 2016 ballot. Odd-numbered senate districts always fall on a presidential ballot year and even-numbered districts are up on gubernatorial ballot years.

Across the state, nine state senators – six Republicans and three Democrats – are term limited. Republicans control both the House and Senate and Gov. Mary Fallin is a Republican.

Other Tulsa area senators whose terms will be up in 2016 are Democrat Kevin Matthews and Republicans Nathan Dahm, Gary Stanislawski and Dan Newberry.

As many as 16 state representative races could develop in and around Tulsa next year.

Most legislators get $38,400 in annual pay (leadership positions make more). Lawmakers can request reimbursement for meals and lodging during the session and for certain travel expenses. They get the same benefits as state employees, including health insurance, life insurance and access to a retirement savings plan.

The annual legislative session runs from early February to the last Friday in May, unless a special session is called by the governor or a supermajority vote of the Legislature.

So far, a handful of candidates have indicated interest in the four open seats in Tulsa.

Tom McCloud, founder and publisher of Community Spirit magazine, has announced he is running for the Republican nomination for the House seat in District 67.  Tulsa businessman Curtis Rothrock, also a Republican, has said he has an interest in that race, too. This would be the first political office for either.

Tulsa businessman Bob Jack, a Republican, announced on his Facebook page that he is officially running for Senate District 25, a seat held by term-limited Mazzei.

None of the incumbent House or Senate members in the Tulsa area has publicly announced that they will not seek re-election in 2016.

Gov. Mary Fallin was re-elected to a second term in 2014 and she will be term limited in 2018, as will Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb.

There is speculation that Lamb will run for governor in 2018.

All the statewide offices are held by Republicans. State Attorney General Scott Pruitt, State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, State Treasurer Ken Miller, State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, Labor Commissioner Mark Costello and Insurance Commissioner John Doak will face re-election in 2016.

Corporation Commissioners Dana Murphy, Bob Anthony and Todd Hiett have staggered, six-year terms. Murphy will be up in 2016, Anthony in 2018 and Hiett in 2020.