A look at leadership in the state House and Senate (Capitol Update)

The House and Senate went into session for “organizational day” last week and the leadership teams in each chamber were formally elected. There wasn’t a lot of change in either chamber. House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, was elected for an unprecedented fourth term as speaker. It’s hard to overstate what an astounding feat that is. Legislative leadership is a first-among-equals type of leadership among members with a multitude of views, agendas, and ambitions. Measured in longevity, Speaker McCall is the most successful in Oklahoma history.

In the Senate, Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, who was first elected in 2019 as President Pro Tempore, was re-elected for a third term after a close contest in the Senate Republican caucus. Given seasoned legislative leadership with Republican super majorities and a newly re-elected Republican governor, it will be interesting to see where they take the state. I’m making no predictions. 

On the Democratic side, Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, continues as Democratic Leader, having served in that capacity since 2018. She’ll lead a caucus of eight Democratic senators in the 48-member Senate. With such a small minority, she leads on the strength of her well-respected intellect and integrity. 

The only new top leader for next session will by Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, the new House Democratic Leader replacing Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, who was term limited. Rep. Munson hails from a traditionally Republican district in Northwest Oklahoma City. She was first elected in a special election in 2015 after having been defeated the previous year. Her district now is relatively evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. 

In such a district, a representative can expect a competitive race in every election. One might suppose that would make Rep. Munson cautious on controversial issues, but not so. In an interview in The Oklahoman she said, “I talk to our (caucus) about appealing to moderate Republicans all the time, but I’m not saying that Democrats should step away from their values. We are going to work with the Republicans on the things that we agree on, but we will continue to stand up against the extremist policies that we know are coming.” She won’t be fighting just for the sake of fighting, but in a House with 20 Democrats and 81 Republicans, there’s not much to be gained from “going along to get along.”


Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

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