The extent of Oklahoma voter frustration over years of budget shortfalls and recent scandals will be tested Tuesday in special elections for three previously Republican-held state legislative seats.
Democrats have had some recent success in the deep red state, but Republicans have a 2-to-1 registration advantage in the suburban districts in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
The seats open in Tuesday's election include one in south Oklahoma City held by former Republican state Sen. Kyle Loveless, who resigned in April and later pleaded guilty to embezzling campaign funds. The other seats up for grabs include a state House seat in Broken Arrow where incumbent Rep. David Brumbaugh died while in office and a Senate seat in suburban Tulsa where Sen. Dan Newberry is stepping down to pursue a private-sector career opportunity.
Although Republicans hold every statewide elected office in Oklahoma and enjoy super majorities in the House and Senate, Democrats have found particular success in special elections, even in strongly Republican districts.
Democrats already have won three GOP-held seats in special elections this year and nearly won a fourth in a heavily Republican Seminole County district.
Oklahoma Republican Party Chair Pam Pollard acknowledges the gains, but suggests it has more to do with GOP apathy than a shift in ideology among the Oklahoma electorate.