By Conrad Dudderar
In a hotly contested election, Yukon’s Rhonda Baker has won a fourth term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
By a narrow 72-vote margin, Rep. Baker defeated challenger Ron Lynch in the June 28th Republican primary to earn a new two-year term representing House District 60.
This race has been decided since no other candidate filed for the District 60 seat.
With 17 precincts reporting results, the final vote tally was 2,140 for Baker and 2,068 for Lynch.
“I knew it was going to be a tight race due to all of the attack ads and all of the money that was put out against me,” said Baker, who will begin her fourth term in the 101-member state House after the Nov. 8th general election. “I’m relieved it’s over.”
Rep. Baker is thankful that voters saw through the “half-truths” in the attack ads and mailers.
“I’m so thankful to those who came out in support of me,” the state legislator said. “I had a lot of people reach out with questions regarding the negative mail pieces and commercials.
“I was always very comfortable and open with what exactly was happening ‘behind the scenes’. I’m so thankful for those who believe in me and trust me.”
First elected to state office in 2016, Baker has lived in Yukon about 40 years.
She chairs the education committee for the Southern Legislative Conference, which starts next week in Oklahoma City for legislators across the southern region.
“After that, I’ll be back to work,” Baker said. “Interim studies will be filed, and we’ll be focusing on potential legislation for next session.”
Baker, who spent 20 years as a teacher, also is chair of the Oklahoma House Common Education Committee.
After legislative redistricting, House District 60 will cover portions of Yukon, El Reno and Oklahoma City in Canadian County.
The district will now include more of the “outlying” Yukon area, including near Westbury and surrounding Surrey Hills.
“I’m anxious for my new constituents to get to know me,” Rep. Baker added. “I’m anxious to really get to work with them, and to continue reinforcing relationships I’ve already built with constituents I’ve had since I started serving.”
District 60 will be much more condensed, from 700 square miles to 141 square miles. New district lines take effect after November’s election.
Rep. Baker is well pleased to serve this part of Canadian County.
“This is such a fantastic place to live and we’re growing so fast,” she said. “People are excited to come and be part of this community. For me to represent that is fantastic. There’s nothing better than that.
“We’re obviously doing something right.”
‘GAVE IT A RUN’
Baker’s challenger in the Republican primary thanked everyone who voted for him and donated to his campaign.
“I gave it a run,” Lynch said. “I only had two months and very limited funds and only got beat by 72 votes.
“Next time, I will have more time and more money – and give it a better run.”
After such a negative campaign, Lynch wants Oklahoma state leaders to “go after” dark money groups that “buy” elections.
“I ran a clean campaign,” he said. “I never attacked my opponent personally or professionally. I wanted to present to the voters what I was going to do to affect and change the future for the positive.”
Lynch said he was a victim of unethical, personal campaign attacks and “garbage” mailers filled with “misinformation” about his past from dark-money groups. He believes new laws are needed to stop them.
“They don’t have to tell the truth; they can slander and lie about you all they want – and then they disappear,” Lynch said. “These groups aren’t registered with the Secretary of State, Oklahoma Election Board or the federal Election Board. They pop up, slam somebody and then disappear.”
After his narrow election loss, Lynch also was unhappy with this week’s voter turnout.
“Barely a little over 10% of the people showed up for primary voting,” he noted. “Sometimes, the primary is the deciding factor in an election. People need to take the primaries way more serious, and we need to have way more participation.
“A lot more of them need to show up and have their voice heard.”
Races for Oklahoma House District 60, Senate District 18, Canadian County Commissioner District 1 and Canadian County Commissioner District 3 were all decided in this week’s Republican primaries.
Lynch, who has lived in Yukon since 2010, owns two businesses selling popcorn and fudge.
This was Lynch’s first attempt at elected political office and his goal was to help stop unnecessary spending by politicians in Oklahoma.
“I just saw things that needed to be changed,” he said. “Yukon’s tax rate is one of the highest in the state. That’s because Yukon likes to spend money. So does Canadian County.
“You can’t lower taxes if you don’t stop spending.”