Murphy wins Corporation Commission nomination

Tuesday, July 29th 2008, 8:37 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Edmond attorney Dana Murphy didn't raise as much money or have as many political endorsements as two-term state Rep. Rob Johnson, her opponent in the GOP primary for Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner.

But that apparently didn't matter to Oklahoma voters, who helped Murphy to a narrow win Tuesday night in the race for a seat on the three-member panel that regulates the state's energy industry.

With all the votes in, the former administrative law judge captured 51 percent of the vote, defeating Johnson by fewer than 3,000 votes out of more than 134,000 votes cast.

"I think this primary is an illustration that having the most money and the most powerful people supporting you doesn't translate into a win," Murphy said Tuesday night. "You have to get out amongst the people and earn it."

Murphy, 48, now will face incumbent Democrat Jim Roth in November in the race to fill an unexpired two-year term on the commission.

Johnson, 34, spent nearly a quarter of a million dollars on his campaign, much of it on television commercials showing him playing with his children, walking through wheat fields and visiting in the halls of the state Capitol.

"Dana Murphy was a very tough opponent," Johnson said Tuesday night, shortly after conceding the race. "She's a very qualified individual and she ran a very tough race.

"I've got two lovely little daughters, and I'll get to spend a little more time with them."

Murphy reported spending nearly $210,000 on her current campaign.

Roth, 39, was appointed to the three-member panel in June 2007 by Gov. Brad Henry after former commissioner Denise Bode, a Republican, resigned to head an organization that promotes the natural gas industry.

Under state law, Roth must run for the remaining two years of Bode's term. If elected, he can run for a full six-year term in 2010.

Roth, who faced no primary opposition, reported having nearly $590,000 available in his campaign coffers.

Despite not having a primary race to help generate name recognition, Roth said having spent more than a year on the Corporation Commission will serve him well as he campaigns for the November election.

"In a sense, I feel that the head start was mine," Roth said. "I look forward to talking with Oklahomans about all that I've been doing every day to protect our consumers."

Roth said he was not concerned about who won the GOP primary.

"This job has been about serving the public. It's never been about an opponent."

The three candidates for the two-year term have combined to raise more than $1.25 million, according to the most recent campaign contribution reports filed with the state Ethics Commission. Roth listed more than $700,000 in total monetary receipts, while Johnson reported nearly $400,000 and Murphy listed about $240,000.

An analysis by The Associated Press of each candidate's individual campaign contributions of more than $500 during the last quarter showed a majority came from individuals with ties to industries regulated by the commission. Roth, the incumbent, received more than $84,500 from individuals with Chesapeake Energy Corp., an Oklahoma City-based natural gas production company.

The three-member Corporation Commission makes decisions on electric and natural gas utility rates and charges, regulates the oil and gas industry and oversees intrastate pipelines and trucking.

Two of the three seats on the Corporation Commission will be decided during the general election on Nov. 4. Republican incumbent Jeff Cloud will seek a second six-year term against Democratic challenger Charles Gray, a former state House member.