The race to replace Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris was whittled to two Friday after State Senator Brian Crain voluntarily withdrew the Tulsa World is reporting.
Crain said he had pulled out of the race, leaving state Rep. Fred Jordan and chief Tulsa County prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler as the remaining candidates.
Crain told the Tulsa World he discovered Thursday morning that a judicial pay raise, approved by the state Legislature on Wednesday, had made him ineligible.
House Joint Resolution 1096 would increase the salaries of Oklahoma district judges and therefore also increase the salaries of all state district attorneys. Crain said he discovered Thursday morning that the Oklahoma Constitution forbids someone serving in the Legislature when a pay raise is approved from running for the position receiving the hike.
Article V, Section 23 of the Oklahoma Constitution reads: “No member of the Legislature shall, during the term for which he was elected, be appointed or elected to any office or commission in the State, which shall have been created, or the emoluments of which shall have been increased, during his term of office.”
“(My withdrawal) has nothing to do with whether I had anything to do with helping to get (HJR 1096) passed,” Crain said. “I didn’t even know it existed until Thursday. I didn’t support it or unsupport it.
Jordan, reached by phone Friday evening as the Legislature was wrapping up its session, told the World it was his understanding he was not affected by the statute that rendered Crain ineligible.
“I’ve looked into it, I don’t believe it affects me because of the language in the Constitution” Jordan said. “The differentiating factor is that I am at the end of my term, and Senator Crain is in the middle of his.”
While Jordan is at the end of his current legislative term some observers suggest the Constitutional issue could also prevent his service as Tulsa District Attorney. However, it would be a matter for the courts to decide if Jordan does not withdraw.
The race will be decided in the June 24 primary now between Rep. Fred Jordan and Chief Tulsa County Prosecutor Steve Kunzweiler. Sen. Crain’s name will appear on the ballot as ballots are already printed, but no vote for Crain will count.