Oklahoma Democrats are showing signs of life

Is Oklahoma political Hell finally freezing over?

Last night, Oklahoma Democrats won two special elections to fill vacated legislative seats left open by the resignations of all-around good guys Dan Kirby and Ralph Shortey.

Here are the details from Dainty Dale Denwalt with The Oklahoman:

Democrats flipped two GOP-controlled districts on Tuesday, giving Oklahoma’s minority party a morale boost heading into a long season of special elections as they prepare for 2018.

Voters on Tuesday decided on Democrats to represent them at the Oklahoma Capitol after their elected officials resigned in disgrace, leaving the legislative seats vacant and forcing the mid-year contests.

Michael Brooks will be the new state senator for District 44 in the southwest Oklahoma City metro area, beating Republican Joe Griffin…

In Tulsa’s House District 75, voters picked Karen Gaddis to replace former state Rep. Dan Kirby, who resigned following an investigation into sexual harassment claims made by a former assistant.

Democrats from all around the country have been gloating about the victories on social media, and rightfully so. Oklahoma is the Pantone 2347 C of red states. If Democrats can win local elections here, who knows what they can do in more advanced, educated, and civilized parts of the country in the mid-terms. But as the Wolf says in Pulp Fiction, “Let’s not start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet.”

Check out the actual election results:

Yeah, that’s not good. Even though Oklahoma Republicans are going through one of their most politically toxic and dysfunctional times in recent memory – an embarrassing and disgraceful period filled with budget crises, gaffes, sex scandals and generally idiocracy – their Democratic rivals barely squeaked out victories against non-incumbents in liberal’ish metropolitan races. That would be like OU only beating OSU by a field goal. The victory feels good and everything. You definitely celebrate it, but you know it should have been by a bigger margin.

As Randy Krehbiel notes in the Tulsa World, this is why last night’s election results feel more like a one-time thing than a developing pattern:

Special elections are generally easier for underdogs to win because turnout is usually low and no incumbents are involved. In these two cases, the Democrats seem to have been more energized and had better known candidates than the Republicans.

The real test will come in the 2018 general elections. Democrats won two off-year special elections in 2015, but lost ground again in the 2016 general.

Democrats did manage to hold the formerly Republican Oklahoma City seat won by Rep. Cyndi Munson, and that will be one of the tells come November 2018. Democrats will not only have to defend the two seats won Tuesday, but their other 2016 special election pick-up, Sen. J.J. Dossett’s GOP-heavy north Tulsa County district.

Tuesday was a nice day for Oklahoma Democrats, but it doesn’t necessarily signal a major shift in Oklahoma politics.

I agree with Randy, but it is pretty obvious we’re seeing a slow-moving shift in Oklahoma voter demographics. Oklahoma’s becoming more and more like Washington and Colorado. The state’s metropolitan cores are growing more liberal and progressive, while the rural areas are somehow growing even more conservative and regressive. Now if only we can get weed legalized, the analogy will be perfect.