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After Rice

Two candidates square off Tuesday to fill the Senate seat vacated by Andrew Rice.

Amy Lester February 8th, 2012

The two candidates vying for former state Sen. Andrew Rice’s vacated seat hope voters will take notice. Oklahoma voters don’t usually pay much attention to special elections; the last one that involved a Senate seat drew only 8 percent of registered voters.

Even so, Democratic state Rep. Al McAffrey and Republican attorney Jason Reese, the candidates squaring off in Tuesday’s special election, both said they’re confident in the race for Senate District 46.

McAffrey, the son of a Baptist minister, runs several businesses, including a funeral home. He has spent the last five years representing House District 88 and will remain in that role if he doesn’t win the Senate post. Reese, the son of what he calls an “auto body man,” practices labor law and unsuccessfully ran for state labor commissioner in 2010.

McAffrey said he believes he can make more of an impact in the Senate, adding, “I think working with 48 [members] is easier than working with 101.”

right, Al McAffrey

Reese said he wants to bring a different twist to the Senate. “I think there are some conservative principles that can be applied with an urban perspective,” he said.

For the 33-year-old Reese, education and the economy are chief issues.

He calls for a “dramatic expansion” of school choice. “I want the working and middle class to be able to have that same kind of opportunity to get a really good education,” he said.

He also wants to end the grocery sales tax and protect several tax credits and incentives that he contends attract jobs.

The 63-year-old McAffrey, who describes himself as pro-small business, supports alternative sentencing programs to reduce the prison population and opposes cuts to SoonerCare, the state’s Medicaid program.

“We have a lot of children whose parents don’t make enough money to insure them and they depend on SoonerCare,” McAffrey said.

The dynamics of District 46 have changed since its last election. While a Democrat has represented the district since 1979, legislators last session moved its boundaries further south. The district now includes more of downtown Oklahoma City and the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

right, Jason Reese

More than 50 percent of the district’s voters are registered Democrats, while nearly 28 percent are Republican and 20 percent are independent.

Both McAffrey and Reese said race transcends party affiliation.

“There are Republicans and Democrats in this district that pride themselves very much in voting the person, not the party,” said Reese.

McAffrey made a similar point. “I have supported the needs of the people of Oklahoma and taken everyone under consideration,” he said. “I don’t have a special interest group that I cater to.”

Photos by Mark Hancock

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02.14.2012 at 07:14 Reply

I was literally ignoring party lines when I decided to vote for Jason Reese, and then I re-read some of the things he's put in the Gazette.  

I liked what you had to say on Sunday Jason, but I'm sorry, now that I've connected the dots, I'm gonna have to go with McAffrey.

In case anyone wonder specificially what I'm referring to, read:

I guess I'll have to stick with my party.