Second Former Republican State Senator Found Shot Dead in Two Days

By Zachary Stieber

A former GOP state senator in Oklahoma was found dead in his house on June 5, police said, the second former Republican state Senator shot dead in two days.

Ex-Arkansas state Senator Linda Collins-Smith was found dead inside her house on June 4.

The Norman Police Department said that Jonathan Nichols, 53, was identified as the man found dead late Wednesday. Officers responded to a house after receiving a report about a person with a gunshot wound.

“Investigators are currently working with the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the exact cause and manner of death,” police said in a statement.

Nichols served in the Oklahoma Senate beginning in 2000 and spent 12 years in office, reported KFOR. After exiting the legislature he became vice president of governmental relations at Oklahoma University. After being fired in 2018, he became senior policy adviser to Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall.

“I am shocked and incredibly saddened to learn that Jonathan has passed away,” McCall said in a statement. “He was a valuable member of my staff and a friend. Jonathan was a very proud man, but he served humbly.”

State Sen. Rob Standridge, who took over the seat that Nichols held, said in a statement that “Sen. Jonathan Nichols was the most brilliant political, legal mind in the Oklahoma State Legislature and worked tirelessly as a senator and for years on staff to help guide our state forward.”

“Jonathan was a great friend, a mentor, a confidant, and was always there for me in whatever situation I was in. From political advice to a sounding board for each other’s challenges in life, my friendship with Jonathan touched every aspect of my life, and I will miss him dearly. Talitha and their daughters are in our prayers,” he added.

Former House member Fred Morgan was also among those reacting to the news, reported NonDoc.

“It was my privilege to know and work with Jonathan over the course of our careers in the Legislature. Jonathan was a talented, dedicated public servant who always sought compromise to resolve complicated problems,” Morgan said in a statement.

“Jonathan was a friend and will be sorely missed by everyone at the state Capitol. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Gabbie Windage, founder of the NonDoc website, added in a statement: “Jonathan Nichols was my dear friend and neighbor. He was a quiet, highly effective servant of the people. He distinguished himself in his ability to work across the aisle to try and make lives better.”

University of Oklahoma Interim President Joe Harroz said in a statement that the university was mourning the loss.

“We mourn his loss deeply on behalf of his family but also on behalf of the OU family and everyone who believes public service is sacred and essential for a civil society,” Harroz said.

“Jonathan will be missed by me, our OU family and the many people he served in his roles as senator, prosecutor, and advocate for education.”