Thursday was the first day of early voting for the Oklahoma Senate District 44 seat in south Oklahoma City.
And Democratic candidate Michael Brook-Jimenez has been rushing to keep up with the short special election schedule.
“Last time that I ran it was a 9 to 10-month campaign,” Brooks-Jimenez told Free Press. “This time, it’s been a nine-week campaign. So, it’s kind of been a whirlwind.”
Having lost his 2014 campaign to unseat incumbent Ralph Shortey, Brooks-Jimenez didn’t expect another campaign season until 2018.
But SD44 unexpectedly came open again in March when Shortey was charged with several sex crimes and resigned his seat.
It set in motion a whirlwind of activities for Brooks-Jimenez as he quickly got back into the pace of door-knocking and phoning residents of the district.
“We’ve worked as hard as we ever have,” he said.
His opponent is Republican Joe Griffith who lost his bid for the House District 92 seat against Democrat Forrest Bennett in the 2016 regular election.
We asked if he has any surprise supporters this time around.
“Running as a Democrat, I’ve been surprised by the Republicans who are supporting me,” Brooks-Jimenez said.
He has been reaching out to “those Republicans that can agree with us that it’s more important to be able to put a person ahead of partisanship.”
“They are ready for a change at the Capitol.”
Brooks-Jimenez said people are concerned about “the budget fiasco,” and the inability to raise teacher pay to a competitive level.
Early voting started Thursday and will run through Saturday at the Oklahoma County Election Board, 4201 North Lincoln Boulevard 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.
Only those with their voter registration within SD44 can vote in this special election.
Election Day will be Tuesday, July 11, at regular precinct polling places in the district.
You may use an online voter tool to check your voter registration and your Oklahoma Senate district.
(See the end of this story for a map of SD44.)
Ralph Shortey was indicted in Cleveland County March 16 on three felony charges: Engaging in child prostitution, engaging in prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution/lewdness.
Moore Police caught 35-year-old Shortey earlier that week in a hotel room with a 17-year-old male after receiving a “check welfare” call from family members of the minor.
He is married, has children and has been active in the youth ministries of his church.
The officers reported a strong smell of marijuana when they approached. They found a container with small amounts of marijuana in the room and an opened box of condoms and lotion in Shortey’s backpack.
Oklahoma’s age of consent is 16. However, it is 18 for the state’s child prostitution laws.
A conversation of the two making plans was still on the minor’s electronic device.
After Shortey turned himself in to the Cleveland County Sheriff to face the indictment, he then eluded the media after posting bond.