As voters from Northwest Oklahoma go to the polls, today; they may not realize that they are deciding the fate of representative democracy for their panhandle region.
Rep. Casey Murdock is jumping at the chance to jump ship and join the other chamber of the legislature. What he would leave in his wake is a forced vacancy for the region, in the House chamber.
The Guymon Daily Herald has confirmed that the governor is refusing to call a special election for the would-be vacant seat. That would result in the panhandle having no representation until after the 2018 November general election.
The panhandle region has long believed that they are no longer listened to or advocated for. But when their own elected representative abandons them, the alienation takes on a new level of starkness. Boise City residents live closer to the New Mexico Capitol than the Oklahoma Capitol.
If the voters choose someone else, they still give Murdock the opportunity to keep collecting his govt. paycheck, legislative vote, and ability for writing legislation. He can file again for that senate seat when the next term comes up. Dr. Carolyn McLarty is polling strongest in this special election. There is no primary runoff election, so the winner may likely advance with well under the 50% they would otherwise need.