NORMAN — The land of the red people, Oklahoma, is one of the reddest states in the nation politically.
Enter Paula Roberts, former election board secretary, educator, and Democrat.
“Everyone told me I was crazy challenging an incumbent Republican,” she said.
But her husband Barry, who hates politics said he’d support her bid and her daughter Amanda put her life on hold to come help Roberts run her campaign. They, along with dozens of supporters knocked doors tirelessly and the effort paid off.
Against all odds, it looked like Roberts had defeated incumbent Aaron Stiles, but a confusion with the numbers and slight discrepancies in two districts meant delayed results. In addition, Amanda Roberts, Paula Roberts’ daughter and campaign manager, reported their estimates put Paula up by a slim 71 votes with the absentee votes still outstanding.
For Roberts and Stiles, it was destined to be a long and bumpy night.
Stiles understands about odds. Two years ago, he stole the seat from long-time Democratic incumbent, Wallace Collins, edging Collins out by a 500 vote margin.
This year’s race was skin tight and too close to call as of press time.
“Of the results I’ve seen, Paula (Roberts) may be the only Democrat to beat an incumbent Republican house member in Oklahoma,” said former president pro tem and longtime state legislator, Cal Hobson.
Hobson said in addition to being an incumbent and a Republican in a red state, Stiles had the money, including virtually all of the PAC money.
“She got the education money, he got all the rest,” Hobson said.
He said hard work and grassroots effort kept Roberts in the race and could ultimately lead to a victory.
“The hard part of campaigning is door-to-door, personal contact,” Hobson said.
Roberts agreed, attributing the success of her campaign to her supporters.