Oklahoma Delegation Satisfied With Republican Led Redistricting

Monday, November 22nd 2021, 11:25 am
By: Alex Cameron


With the Oklahoma Legislature's decennial redistricting work complete, members of Oklahoma's congressional delegation say they are more than satisfied with the redrawn lines of their districts.

Related Story: Gov. Stitt Approves New Maps For Oklahoma's Congressional Districts, 1 New District Map For State House

The Republican-led effort culminated in a special session last week that saw both the House and Senate easily approve new state and federal district maps as is required following the release of new census data every ten years.

Democrats have been critical of the process and particularly critical of adjustments made to the 5th Congressional District, which currently encompasses much of Oklahoma City and its growing Hispanic population.

Under the GOP proposal, a hefty slice of southwest Oklahoma City -- home to tens of thousands of Hispanic residents, who tend to vote Democratic -- will become part of the 3rd Congressional District, while portions of heavily Republican Canadian, Logan and Lincoln Counties will be added to the 5th District.

Those changes, Democrats says, are a blatant attempt at making it easier for Republicans, and specifically, the Republican currently holding the 5th District seat, Rep. Stephanie Bice, to hold onto it in the next general election.

Rep. Bice was on vacation and unable to comment for this story, but Rep. Frank Lucas says the converse is true for his 3rd District -- the changes are likely to make his next race tougher.

"Yes, it makes mine a little more competitive, but that’s OK," said Rep. Lucas in a recent interview. "I need every two years, I think as the founding fathers and mothers intended, to get out there and justify and explain why I should represent my good people."

Lucas reminds Democrats and other skeptics that, underlines drawn by Democrats, his district included south Oklahoma City up until 20 years ago. "Just lots of good, solid, hard-working people," said Lucas, "so I’m happy to have them back...When I look at the maps, those people in South Oklahoma City have a whole lot in common with the rest of the third district of Oklahoma. We’re middle class, we are hard-working people, we’re trying to get the first step on the latter, we are culturally diverse."

"I look at the map and it makes a lot of sense to me," said Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4), whose district changes minimally in the new configuration.

Congressman Cole says he remembers well the days when Democrats controlled the Legislature and thus controlled the redistricting process.

"Count me as skeptical about Democratic crocodile tears," Cole said in an interview last week. "They drew a lot worse lines than these and they know it. They shamelessly gerrymandered the state for decades."

The first election to use the new district boundaries will be the primary election next June.