Frank Simpson, the longtime state senator currently representing District 14, won the Republican primary against newcomer Joe Caudle last night.  Simpson won by a margin of 63 to 32 percent, taking home the lions share of the 6,119 votes cast.
Simpson held a dual watch party with House District 48 candidate Tammy Townley, whom he endorsed previously in the campaign. He said that while the job is part-time on paper, in reality it’s anything but.
“People don’t always understand,” Simpson said. “This can dominate your life. This is a year-round job.”
Simpson said hospitals and nursing homes in rural areas are particularly vulnerable right now. He said many are in financial crisis as a result of recent budget cuts.
“Healthcare is a big issue,” Simpson said. “One of the things we’ve struggled with over the last four years, because of the budget situation, is the provider rate to fund Medicaid. Especially in rural Oklahoma, it’s impacted us.”
He also said infrastructure poses another pressing concern.
“We’ve done a great job at the state level of decreasing the number of deficient bridges,” Simpson said. “In 2010 there were 1,300 deficient bridges on our state highways. Right now we’re below 100, and we’ve got to duplicate that on the county side.”
He said the state’s oil, gas and agricultural industries are largely dependent on county roads and bridges.
“They start out on a county road somewhere,” Simpson said. “Without a good county road system, we’re not going to be able to get that commodity to market.”
Simpson’s opponent Joe Caudle waited for results with family, opting out of a watch party. He said he’s unlikely to run again anytime soon, but as a candidate he learned about issues that he’ll keep advocating for as a private citizen.
“I’m going to continue to fight for the Talihina Veterans Center,” Caudle said. “That is my number one goal; to save that center. I will be fighting to keep it open. I want to do what I can to help them.”