Two enter race for Senate seat with history of scandal
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
It is a race to replace a politician who resigned amid child prostitution charges. The day after Ralph Shortey resigned from the state Senate, the campaign to replace him picked up a second contender.
Before Shortey’s resignation, immigration attorney Michael Brooks-Jiménez announced he was planning to run again. He lost to Shortey by a large margin in 2014. He’s now facing a Republican opponent and both men say they are committed to the south side.
“I've lived in the district my entire life,” Brooks-Jiménez told FOX 25. “I love South Oklahoma City. My kids go to school here, I go to church here, I moved my business from downtown back to South Oklahoma City.”
“I've lived in this city for almost eight years now,” said Joe Griffin, the Republican candidate for Senate District 44. “I own my home, I have kids that go to school and I care about the future of Oklahoma.”
Griffin previously ran for a House seat, but lost that race in November’s general election.
Griffin and Brooks-Jiménez say they are committed to returning honor back to the voters of the district following one of the most shocking scandals to ever hit the state legislature.
“It is just shocking the whole thing and I think what everybody needs to do right now is pray for the people who are suffering because of what happened,” Griffin said.
Griffin said his priority in the Senate would be to tackle what he believes to be the most important issue facing the south side; jobs. He hopes to remove red tape and bring industry back to the area to help working-class families.
Brooks-Jiménez said his priority is serving the people he’s lived with his entire life. That work would begin with repairing the damage done to those people who are without representation at the captiol. “Right now rebuilding trust, restoring integrity to the office,” Brooks-Jiménez said. “I mean this is unbelievable what has happened and at this point I think we have to be committed to proving a voice at the capitol to the people of South Oklahoma City.”
The previous occupant of the Senate District 44 seat, Ralph Shortey, resigned after being charged with child prostitution charges. Investigators say he took a teenage boy to a hotel with the intention of paying for sexual activity.
Shortey was elected to the district amid a previous legislative scandal.
Debbe Leftwich, a democrat, won the seat once held by her husband following his death. She decided not to run again for the Senate, but it was revealed that decision was influenced by Republican Representative Randy Terrill's plan to create a high-paying state job for Leftwich. The intention, according to prosecutors was to create an opening for a Republican candidate to seek the seat.
Now both Griffin and Brooks-Jiménez say they want people to see past the scandals.
“Do I think this is going to sour Republican turnout? No,” Griffin said. “No doubt Republicans are going to be upset, we've hit a bad apple, and it is pretty bad, but I think that we have a strong message and we have strong values.”
“I think we have to convince people that my intentions are true,” Brooks-Jiménez said. “I'm going because this is the place where I come from and that at this point, I want to serve as a representative of the people of south Oklahoma City.”