Mr. Kannady insists that he was only acting in self-defense against primary challenges and that, with an array of business interests helping fund the operation, he was the only lawmaker involved. Both of the claims are hotly disputed by his Republican adversaries. Mr. Kannady did acknowledge, however, that the lawmakers who were targeted had long been considered trouble within the caucus.
“This group, all they really knew was the red button,” Mr. Kannady said. “They voted against everybody’s issues.” For all the ugliness of the primaries, Mr. Kannady concluded, the caucus is “stronger and more unified than it’s been since the Republicans have taken over.”
They are not so sure about that in Muskogee.
“War is made up of battles,” said Tom Montgomery, a Republican state committeeman in Muskogee and a strong supporter of Mr. Faught. “My boys lost some battles, there’s no other way of saying it. But I think the war is not won yet.”
The Democrat in the race, Jack Reavis, a soft-spoken high school civics teacher, has a decent chance now. Some of his votes will come from Republicans fed up with the ideological rigidity of legislators like Mr. Faught. Some votes will come from Mr. Faught’s biggest fans.
“I could have probably voted a straight ticket if it wasn’t for that one race,” said Lisa McManus, a beekeeper in Muskogee who answers the door with a gun in her hand. Disgusted by the campaign against Mr. Faught, she has already voted in the general election, by absentee ballot, for Mr. Reavis.
A likely short-lived Democratic win would be a small cost to bear in the larger custody battle over the Republican Party.
This is, after all, a one-party state.