TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A slim margin of victory has driven a Stillwater state senator to raise the most money among legislative candidates this election.
Sen. Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, has received at least $225,383 since filling for re-election in 1998. Voters elected the former municipal judge in 1996 by a margin of 32 votes out of 26,000 cast.
``Money is so critical to a campaign and we just had to get busy,'' Morgan said. ``That's probably what drives me is I'd like to have a little less close of a margin.''
Morgan and Republican Rodger Ensign, who has raised $27,367, are among 291 candidates for state offices who have raised a combined $8.5 million for Tuesday's election, according to records. Of that figure, candidates reported spending a little more than $6 million, the Tulsa World reported.
Candidates vying for county offices statewide have raised a combined $1.8 million. Leading the pack are Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel, who has raised $196,105, and Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz, who has raised $68,471.
Democratic state Sen. Ben Robinson has raised $128,827, compared to challenger Tommy Anderson, a Republican who has raised $12,659.
State Sen. Penny Williams, D-Tulsa, has raised $114,730, compared to her Republican challenger, Assistant District Attorney Paul Wilkening, who has raised $65,916.
In th House, Democratic state Rep. Larry Adair of District 86, has raised $150,558, while his Republican challenger, Russell Turner, has raised $6,623. And Democratic state Rep. Larry Rice has received $99,172 in donations, compared to $970 in contributions to Republican opponent Paul Hollrah.
The figures do not include last-minute contributions, which have been coming into campaigns in recent days. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission reports that late donations of $500 or more that have come in since Oct. 24 totaled $450,286.08 as of Friday.
Chandler Republican Kent Friskup, who is running for House District 32, an open seat that includes parts of Lincoln and Creek counties, has received $17,225, the largest amount of late contributions, records show.
He is running against Democrat Danny Morgan, who has received $3,000, including a $1,000 donation from Molly Boren, the wife of University of Oklahoma President David Boren. In all, Morgan has raised $55,061, to Friskup's $36,267.
Other late contributions included $14,300 for Democrat Sean Voskuhl of Marshall, who is running against incumbent Republican Robert Milacek of Waukomis in Senate District 19. Republican Dub Whalen of Oklahoma City has received $12,275 in his bid to unseat Rep. Al Lindley, D-Oklahoma City, in House District 93.
Top late contributors include the National Republican Congressional Committee, $44,528 to the Oklahoma Republican Party; DRIVE, the political action committee of Teamsters Local 523, which gave $29,900 to several Democratic candidates, and the New Oklahoma, Gov. Frank Keating's PAC, which gave $32,250 to Republican candidates.
Several executives with Conoco Oil contributed to Keating's PAC, records show. Keating and Conoco officials went on a fishing trip to Alaska earlier this year, which resulted in an Ethics Commission complaint that failed to report the trip as a contribution, the Tulsa World reported.
Steve Edwards, chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, said the last-minute contributions are important because they allow candidates to fund their last push in television and radio commercials as well as mail-outs.
People are donating a lot of money to GOP candidates because there is little support in Oklahoma for Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore and because people ``are sick and tired of the scandals athat crop up in Oklahoma City _ they know who to blame.''
Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Mike Mass said he isn't surprised by the last-minute contributions.
``Republicans have always had a lot of money and that is part of the difference between the two parties,'' Mass said.
``Organized labor has always been a friend of the Democratic Party. We have many Democrats who don't support the labor movement but they still support the party that they feel helps the labor movement.''