OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) With Republicans now enjoying huge and growing majorities in the Oklahoma House and Senate, GOP legislative leaders are being forced to wrangle with a growing challenge how to balance a broader spectrum of ideas and ideology as a steady stream of new conservatives prepare to take office.
Last week, four new Republicans secured posts in the Oklahoma Legislature with victories in primary runoffs in races that drew no Democrats, including two new GOP senators who replace retiring Democrats.
Two of those new Republican members Sen.-elect Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow and Rep.-elect Ken Walker of Tulsa both defeated better funded, chamber of commerce-backed opponents in the Republican primary.
Outgoing House Speaker Kris Steele's battles with the right wing of the 70-member strong GOP caucus over the last two years were well documented, but now some lawmakers openly wonder whether a similar schism could emerge in the Senate, where Republicans are expected to build on their 32-16 majority.
"You've seen that divide in the House of Representatives the last couple of years," said Senate Democratic leader Sean Burrage, D-Claremore. "You haven't really seen the same in the Senate, but who knows, that could change.
"I think as your caucus grows, you get more members and more issues are going to pop up."