By Conrad Dudderar
As he prepares to take his seat in the Oklahoma State Senate, a Yukon conservative says voters made a strong statement this week.
Jake A. Merrick, 39, has been elected by a 64.45% majority to fill the Senate District 22 vacancy.
“This was a statement from the people that this state – and this district – is still conservative,” said Merrick, a small business owner. “It was a message from the people that we’re still ‘red’ and we want to protect these values we believe in.”
A constitutional conservative, Merrick is a strong advocate for an individual’s rights to free speech, religion and to bear arms.
Merrick soundly defeated Edmond Democrat Molly Ooten, 31, to claim victory in the special election.
The final vote tally across District 22 was 7,415 (64.45%) for Merrick and 3,915 (34.55%) for Ooten.
Merrick saw even stronger support from Canadian County voters, where he won by a 72.88% margin – 3,966-1,476.
As the winner, Merrick will join the 48-member State Senate next week to complete the final 21 months of former Sen. Stephanie Bice’s unexpired four-year term. Republican Bice is Oklahoma’s new 5th District congresswoman.
Senate District 22 is comprised of eastern Canadian County and northern Oklahoma County, including parts of Yukon, Piedmont, Edmond, and Deer Creek.
Sen.-elect Merrick was pleased with the high voter turnout for this special election.
Some 11,330 votes were cast across District 22, with 5,442 of those in Canadian County.
“I’m just so thankful for all the support,” Merrick said. “It’s been amazing – all over the district and state.”
The incoming state senator offered special kudos to his campaign volunteers.
“This doesn’t happen without an army of people behind you,” Merrick emphasized. “We had a grassroots campaign from beginning to end. Everyone believed in the message and believed in the cause. They gave their time, energy and money relentlessly.
“They helped knock on doors and engaged with citizens. And that made the difference.”
READY TO TAKE OATH
Merrick will officially begin his State Senate career soon.
“It looks like I’ll be sworn in next Wednesday morning,” he said. “I’m ready to get to work.”
In the days leading up to taking his Senate oath, Merrick plans to spend time getting acclimated by sitting in on the legislative session.
“I want to learn more about the other senators and the issues we’re voting on,” he said. “I’ll vote in alignment with our values.”
Merrick said he’s already gained valuable insight from another constitutional conservative local lawmaker, District 43 State Rep. Jay Steagall (R-Yukon).
“I’m excited to be working with Rep. Steagall,” Merrick added. “He’s solid and reflects the values we believe in as well.
“I’m anxious to learn. And I’m ready to get in there and ‘rub shoulders’, learn about the processes and what needs to be done – not just from the officials, but from the people as well.”
Realizing nearly 4,000 votes were cast for his opponent, Merrick pledges to represent all constituents across District 22.
“There is always a concern from the other side – will they be heard?” he said. “I will have an open office and an open ear, no matter someone’s (political) party, beliefs, economic status, sex, or religion.
“No matter who you are or what background you come from, you have God-given rights that I will fight to protect.”