Resignation, accusations and death create 8 legislative openings in 2017

Eight Oklahoma legislators have left office since January due to resignation, scandal and death.

The late Rep. David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow, passed away in April. Some lawmakers have left to pursue other employment while some were forced to resign due to criminal accusations.

Four special elections have been held in those four districts, with Democrats winning three of four – including in some heavily Republican districts like House District 75 in Tulsa.

Three special elections are set for November 14 – including Senate District 37 in Tulsa – while one Senate race is scheduled for December 12.

The rash of special elections could cost the State Election Board as much $250,000 this year. Each special election costs between $10,000-$44,000, depending on whether it is a House or Senate district.

And Oklahoma could be facing a special election in the First District of the U.S. Congress. U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to the chief administrator of NASA.

Should Bridenstine be confirmed before December 31, there would be a special congressional election early next year. If he is not confirmed or the confirmation is in 2018, the office will be vacant until the normal election cycle in November of next year.

A congressional special election could cost the state more than $200,000 and up to $600,000 – if there is a primary, runoff and general election.

State Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, has filed a bill that would make legislators found guilty of crimes to forfeit their retirement benefits and the rest of their remaining campaign funds to defray the costs of special elections.

State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, has filed a similar bill.

Resigned with accusations

  • District 27 Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, resigned Sept. 12 after being charged with sexual battery accusations from an Uber driver.
    A special election is set for December 12 with a general election February 13.
  • District 44 Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, resigned after he was charged with engaging in child prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church and transporting a minor for prostitution.
    The special election was July 11. Sen. Michael Brooks, D-Oklahoma City, won that election.
  • District 45 Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, resigned April 27 after a criminal investigation over embezzlement of campaign funds.
    The special election will be Nov. 14 between Democrat Steven Vincent and Republican Paul Rosino.
  • District 75 Representative Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, resigned March 1 after accusations of sexual harassment. The special election was July 11.
    Rep. Karen Gaddis, D-Tulsa, won that race.

Resigned for other opportunities

  • District 37 Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, resigned (effective January 31) to take a senior management position with a credit union.
    The special election will be Nov. 14 between Republican Brian O’Hara and Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman.
  • District 28 Representative Tom Newell, R-Seminole, resigned to go to work for the think tank, The Foundation for Government Accountability.
    The special election was May 9. Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, won.
  • District 46 Representative Scott Martin, R-Norman, resigned May 31 to lead the Norman Chamber of Commerce.
    The special election was Sept. 12. Rep. Jacon Rosecrants, D-Norman, won that election.


  • District 76 Representative David Brumbaugh, R-Broken Arrow, passed away on April 15.
    The special election is Nov. 14 between Democrat Chris Landingham and Republican Ross Ford.