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Oklahoma Democratic Party officials ponder whether to file lawsuit over 5th District decision

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Democratic Party leaders said Thursday they're still undecided over whether to mount a legal challenge over Republican U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin's victory over the 81-year-old Democratic nominee who died two days before the general election.

Party Chairman Wallace Collins says he met via teleconference with party leaders about whether to proceed with a lawsuit, but the group did not come to a decision.

"Basically it comes down to getting back in touch with the lawyers," Collins said. "We're trying to get more information about cost and other issues before the group makes a definite 'yes' or 'no' decision."

The Oklahoma Election Board voted last week to certify the results of the Nov. 4 election based on a recommendation from Attorney General Scott Pruitt's office.

Democrats have argued that state law calls for a special election in the case of a candidate's death before the election.

But Pruitt's office, whose attorneys provide legal advice to the election board, said federal law trumps state law in this case, citing a section of federal law that says Oklahoma must hold an election for U.S. representative on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

Mullin won with 70 percent of the vote over Democrat Earl Everett and an independent. But Everett was critically injured in a car accident and died Nov. 2.

Democrats already have selected outgoing state Sen. Jerry Ellis of Valliant as the party's substitute candidate.

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