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Sen. Andrew Rice victorious, but GOP sweep reduces his Democratic caucus

Sen. Andrew Rice

State Sen. Andrew Rice won overwhelming reelection on November 2. In final but unofficial returns, he gained 7,546 votes (68.28%) to 3,506 (31.72%) for his Republican opponent, Joshua Jantz.

In a late, election night interview Rice told Stacy Martin of The City Sentinel, “I’m happy I won but other than that … that’s about all there is to be happy about. We’ll have 16 Democrats (in his caucus). We lost five open seats and Jay Paul Gumm lost his reelection.”

Gumm’s defeat in District 6 is the most significant of the 2010 state Senate election results. Republican Josh Brecheen, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, gained 11,714 votes (56.76%) in the heart of “Little Dixie,” the state’s traditional home of “yellow dog Democrats” voters. Sen. Gumm had 8,925 votes (43.24%).

Gumm was a leader among Democrats in the Senate, but voted with Republicans on some issues. Republicans also won five “open” seats where Democratic incumbents retired, including the south Oklahoma City post vacated by Debbe Leftwich.

Rice said the implications of the broad Republican sweep trouble him: “So it’ll be single party rule now in Oklahoma, from the governor on down. That’s not good. We won’t have those checks and balances now.”

Rice reflected that his colleague Gumm “was extremely conservative. He was almost like a Republican. I think it was based purely on feelings about the national situation and President Obama.”

Rice believes, “It was a reactionary vote. But ironically, they’ve ushered in single party rule, which is what we have in Washington.”

Rice predicted significant budget cuts are in the state’s future. The urban Democrat said he was concerned about areas including highway patrol and rural schools.

Rice is the leader-designate for Democrats in the state Senate. Democrats in the state House of Representatives also lost eight seats (net) to Republicans in the Nov. 2.

Note: Stacy Martin contributed to this report.

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