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Oklahoma Lawmakers Shift To Campaign Season After Legislative Session Concludes

FILE- Oklahoma State Capitol
Brent Fuchs
The Journal Record

On Friday, lawmakers finished their work for the year and can now dive into the campaign season.

The state’s $6.8 billion budget dominated the conversation at NE 23rd and Lincoln, and it’s still on voters’ minds even after the legislature adjourned.

Depending on how they voted on the budget, House and Senate will have to defend it or point out its flaws. The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt reports lawmakers are preparing for constituent questions:

State Sen. Bryce Marlatt, part of GOP leadership this year as caucus chairman, literally has more ground to cover than any other legislative candidate. His nine-county northwest Oklahoma district sent him to the state Capitol twice, and this fall could send him back for his final four years if he beats his Republican and Democratic opponents. Marlatt said he feels confident about being able to tell voters the Legislature avoided further education cuts, prevented a 25-percent cut on Medicaid provider rates and preserved other important functions of government. “I feel good about what we did,” Marlatt said. “I will say this – I voted on eight budgets, and I haven’t voted on one where I liked everything in it. You’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt, so I think we did the best with what we had.”

State Rep. John Paul Jordan, R-Yukon, has two Republicans to beat on June 28. Jordan voted against the budget and said he was prepared to go into special session if the appropriations bill failed. He spent his Memorial Day weekend knocking on voters’ doors. He’s not the only lawmaker facing challenges from within the party during next month’s statewide primary.

From Denwalt:

State Sen. Dan Newberry drew six opponents, two of them from his same party. At least one, Brian Jackson, has said he filed against Newberry because of education. Newberry, however, said his district will understand the situation he faced in voting for the bill. “We’ve come up here every year to try to find ways to make this budget work,” said Newberry, R-Tulsa. “I think this is the best budget we could have come up with and it is, in my opinion, imprudent to go into special session when we’re fighting over what the color of the carpet should be.”

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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