Kunzweiler, the Republican candidate who first succeeded his former boss Tim Harris as DA in 2014, jumped out to a slight early lead Tuesday night and slowly built his advantage over Proehl-Day, a former prosecutor who now works in private practice.
It was surprisingly close given that Proehl-Day had little name recognition, is a Democrat, and ran a progressive platform of criminal justice reforms — even recently stating she would not prosecute marijuana offenses if elected. Kunzweiler, who has been a prosecutor for nearly three decades, eventually defeated her by the same margin he won over Republican challenger Ben Fu last summer.
Fu, like Proehl-Day, ran a progressive platform, though he had a large fundraising advantage over Kunzweiler. Fu also had the endorsement of the local fraternal order of police, who had clashed with Kunzweiler after he charged former Tulsa Police Department officer Betty Shelby in the 2016 death of Terence Crutcher (Shelby was eventually acquitted.)
Though Oklahoma voters have signaled they approve of criminal justice reform — easily passing two reform state questions in 2016 — they have stuck by Kunzweiler this election cycle. Kunzweiler, despite not exactly siding with reforms that voters have favored — and clashing with both Fu and Proehl-Day over various reform-minded topics — has maintained a firm grip on the office since his first election in 2014.
Nevertheless, he has now charged three police officers with shootings — Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy Robert Bates, Shelby and Shannon Kepler (an off-duty officer who shot and killed an unarmed black teen in 2015) — earning convictions on both Bates and Kepler.
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