By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
Political newcomer Arthur Hulbert clenched his victory over his Democratic rival Tuesday, keeping the House District 14 legislative seat vacated by Rep. George Faught in the Republican column.
Hulbert, a physical therapist, businessman and educator from Fort Gibson, beat his Democratic rival with 54.9 percent, or 6,880, of the 12,542 votes cast. Jerry Rains, a local rancher who won the Democratic nomination from a field of three, banked 5,662 votes, or 45.1 percent.
Hulbert co-opted much of the Democratic message, campaigning on a promise to fully restore public education funding to pre-recession levels. When it came to tax cuts and economic development, there was little light separating Hulbert from his Democratic opponent.
With regard to social issues, Rains mirrored Hulbert on topics such as gay marriage and abortion. Rains, however, said he opposed legislating morality while Hulbert sees no problem with pushing a faith-based agenda.
“Basically, I spoke about what was important to my heart — education, jobs and the values I think people embrace,” Hulbert said of his victory Tuesday night. “We had a large group of volunteers and a lot good people working hard who came through for us.”
Rains said it will be interesting to see whether Hulbert, who won the endorsement of Gov. Mary Fallin and other GOP leaders, will be able to stick to his guns once he gets to Oklahoma City.
“The people spoke: They want to keep things like they are,” Rains said about his rival’s win. “It was a tough night for Democrats. We ran a good race, and I don’t know what we could have done that would have made it any different.”
Hulbert’s win began early Tuesday as absentee ballots and early voting results were tallied. Hulbert beat Rains in both categories — 271-183 for the absentee ballots mailed in and 993-789 for the in-person absentee polling.
The Republican’s edge continued Tuesday during precinct polling, with Hulbert nabbing 6,880 votes compared to the 5,662 ballots banked by Rains.
Hulbert said he is looking forward to representing District 14 and the opportunity to serve his constituents. He said he would fulfill his promise to push for public education funding once he arrives at the statehouse.
“I would say that is a good place for us to start,” Hulbert said about restoring the $222 million cut from the education budget during the past four years. “I have learned you should work on the most important things first, and that would be education.”
Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot
State Representative District 14
• Arthur Hulbert (R), 6,880, 54.9 percent.
• Jerry Rains (D), 5,662, 45.1 percent.