by Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – Cyndi Ann Munson was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for District 85. Her victory raises the Democratic caucus membership to 30.
Munson defeated Republican nominee Chip Carter, an Oklahoma City businessman. In victory, she assumes the seat previously held by David Dank.
Munson garnered 2,640 votes (53.79 percent) to 2,268 (46.21 percent) for Carter. A total of 4,908 votes were cast in the special election. She had an advantage throughout the formal polling process, winning the absentee vote narrowly, then the small number of early voters, and in election day balloting Tuesday (September 8).
Munson was unopposed for her party’s nomination, while Carter was one of four candidates who sought the GOP nod in the July 14 special election.
Besides Carter, GOP hopefuls this summer were retired firefighter and military veteran Ralph Crawford, party activist Matt Jackson, and attorney Amy Palumbo.
Carter won the Republican nod with a plurality of votes, avoiding a runoff under the state’s special election provisions.
All candidates — even Palumbo, who opposed Dank in the 2014 election — stressed agreement with his model of public service.
“Cyndi Munson succeeded Tuesday where so many others have failed in the past. She was elected to represent a district that the Republican Party has held for at least 50 consecutive years,” commented Democratic House Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City.
“We House Democrats are exceedingly happy and proud to welcome Cyndi Ann Munson to our caucus. We congratulate her on a hard-fought campaign that resulted in a well-deserved victory.
“Her election success is evidence that a high-quality candidate focused on improving public education, health care, and Oklahoma’s infrastructure – and presenting that message in a thoughtful manner, and not by hyper-partisan rhetoric – can in fact resonate with voters.
“With the Legislature facing a budget shortfall next year of perhaps a billion dollars, we have our work cut out for us. I am confident that the good people of House District 85, in choosing to send Representative-elect Munson to the State Capitol, made the right choice Tuesday.”
The outcome is a boost to Rep. Inman and his Democratic colleagues.
The summer special election campaign was marked with a steady barrage of direct mail pieces into the homes of high-propensity voters, as well as telephone calls and door-to-door visits. Several independent expenditures pressed for Carter’s election.
Oklahoma’s House 85 is an odd-shaped “bowling ball” district stretching from solidly Republican areas around Lake Hefner in northwest Oklahoma City and into half of the historic Crown Heights neighborhood north of downtown.
Analysts, including this writer, have long surmised the district might become competitive without a Dank in office.
Several reapportionments ago, the seat was for a few years in the hands of Mary Fallin, who went on to serve as lieutenant governor, U.S. Representative and, presently, governor of the Sooner State.
Either David or his wife Odilia, who preceded him in office and who died two years ago, had held the job for the past two decades.
Odilia served the maximum 12 years in the House.
Her husband David then won the post and held it for just over eight years .
In 2014, Munson challenged Rep. Dank’s hold on the seat, running a credible but losing race against the storied incumbent.
Dank was known for his brand of independent conservatism, including opposition to open-ended business subsidies, tax credits and incentives. In a couple of campaigns, he drew opposition from some elements of the State and City Chambers of Commerce, but always won reelection.
David Dank died last spring.