Oklahoma’s June Primary Election presented few surprises in a field crowded with Republican contenders for a handful of national seats. The Oklahoma Election Board reports show that only 32% of registered Republicans showed up to vote, and a dismal 15% of Democrats and Independents voted. Put another way, out of almost 4 million Oklahomans, only a bit more than 500,000 voted.
Runoffs occur when no candidate gets at least 50% of the vote.
In the state House of Representatives, 58 Republicans have been elected either by primary victory or by default with no challenger. 9 House Democrats were elected unchallenged. There will be 7 runoff elections for Republicans to vote in this year. In the whole state, only Senate District 28 had primaries on both the Democratic and Republican sides. Many offices are elected with no challenges.
Below, we will note the outcome of a few key races and what that might mean for the rest of this year as we move into runoffs and the General Election in November.
Kevin Stitt and Joy Hofmeister will face off in the General Election after winning their respective primaries, both by healthy margins. However, nearly 1/3 of Republican voters voted against Kevin Stitt; for contrast, Mary Fallin won her reelection in 2014 with more than 75% of total Republican votes, signaling a potential fracturing of Republican solidarity in a crowded field.
Kevin Stitt, the incumbent, seeks a second term as Governor; Hofmeister is the current superintendent of public instruction. She switched parties from Republican to Democrat to run against Stitt on a heavily pro-public education platform.
Incumbent James Lankford handily defeated challengers that included Jackson Lahmeyer and Joan Farr in the Republican primary race for his Senate seat. Democratic voters will see a runoff between Madison Horn (no relation to former Congresswoman and current US Senate candidate Kendra Horn) and Jason Bollinger.
Senator Jim Inhofe announced earlier this year that he would be retiring after 27years in the Senate. His term is unexpired. Currently U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin, who represents Oklahoma’s 2nd congressional district, will head to a runoff with T.W. Shannon. Also in this race were current State Senator Nathan Dahm, who ran thanks to nearly $1 million from a national PAC, and Luke Holland, whose TV ads left many viewers scratching their heads as to what Holland’s real priorities would be in office.
The runoff will take place August 23 and its winner will face a familiar face in Kendra Horn, running unopposed on the Democratic ticket.
U.S. House of Representatives
District 1, Tulsa: No election; Democrat Adam Martin and incumbent Kevin Hern ran unopposed in the Primary and will face off in November.
District 2 Eastern Oklahoma: A runoff between Avery Frix and Josh Brecheen; the winner will face Democrat Naomi Andrews.
District 3, Northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle: Incumbent Frank Lucas defeated his challengers in the Republican primary and will face Jeremiah Ross in November.
District 4, Southwest Oklahoma: Incumbent Tom Cole will race against Mary Brannon (D).
District 5, Oklahoma City: Incumbent Stephanie Bice defeated Subrina Banks and will see Joshua Harris Till (D) at the polls in November.
Current Attorney General John O’Connor conceded his race to Gentner Drummond. O’Connor has been no friend to progressive social justice in Oklahoma since his ongoing feud with Native American leadership; it remains to be seen if Drummond will maintain healthier relationships or will continue in the same anti-progress vein. This also signals Republicans pulling away from support of Kevin Stitt, failing to vote for the heavily Stitt-backed O’Connor over relatively unknown Drummond.
Candidate Ryan Walters, currently the Secretary of Education appointed by Gov. Stitt in 2020, who has made headlines lately for his homemade YouTube videos decrying the liberalization of public education, heads to a runoff with April Grace, the Shawnee Public Schools superintendent and a 30 year public educator. Walters was heavily backed by Kevin Stitt and expected to sweep this election, but the results were closer than anticipated. This will be one to watch as the future of state public education hangs in the balance.
Oklahoma City/County Election
OK County Jail Bond Issue
Voters approved the Oklahoma County Jail Bond issue by nearly 60% of the vote, a $260 million bond package that will pave the way for a new jail facility. Opponents of the issue raised convincing arguments, citing ongoing concerns about management, staffing, and infrastructure at the current jail and calling again for the funding to be used for mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities, transitional housing for the homeless, and other community wellness projects. A citizens oversight committee will be put together, but it remains to be seen what the impact and enforcement power of such a committee would look like, given the general distrust of existing citizen oversight committees at the city level.
Oklahoma Associate District Judge
Angela Singleton will face Richard Kirby in a runoff. Kirby, the incumbent, has been on the bench since 2007, presides over probates, guardianships, and adoptions in Oklahoma county. This will be his fourth reelection bid if he wins the primary. Singleton has worked as an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County, prosecuting homicides, and violent crimes. In 2016, she opened her own private criminal defense firm.
Oklahoma District Attorney District 7
Republicans will see a runoff between Kevin “I’ll Set myself on Fire” Calvey and Gayland Gieger, both of whom are problematic; Calvey has a long history of issues in Oklahoma County in his current capacity as a member of the Jail Trust. During his tenure as County Commissioner, Calvey has been accused of assaulting a demonstrator and of mismanaging the funds allocated throughout the COVID pandemic. Geiger presided over the sex crimes unit at the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office; he has faced significant criticism over his handling of the Holtzclaw sexual battery cases as well as his misuse of an organizational email to raise funds for his campaign.
Associate District Judge District 7:
Democrats selected Vicki Behenna to face the Republican challenger over longtime civil rights attorney Mark Myles. Behenna herself represented protestors during the Summer 2020 racial justice demonstrations and has frequently expressed empathy with those exercising their First Amendment rights.
District 7 Judgeships:
Office 3 – Amy Palumbo out-fundraised and outcampaigned Merydith Easter and Joan Lopez to carry the win. Easter claimed in debates that Palumbo has been too cozy with defense attorneys in her current position as a judge; Palumbo herself has been known to maintain a strong conservative Christian bent in her perspectives.
Office 5 – Incumbent Natalie Mai won handily over challengers Beau Phillips and Jason Seabolt. Mai has been on the bench since 2018 and currently presides over both a felony and a civil docket after Judge Ray Elliot retired in February of this year.
Office 13 – Nikki Kirkpatrick won over Rand Eddy and Miguel Garcia; Kirkpatrick’s endorsements from various Fraternal Orders of Police and law enforcement agencies, as well as her background as a prosecutor, means we can expect a ‘tough on crime” attitude from this office.
House District 44
Democrat Jared Deck defeated Kate Bierman in a tough race for the Democratic primary in the blue stronghold of Norman. He faces Republican R.J. Harris in November; the winner will replace Rep. Emily Virgin, who terms out this year.
House District 88
Current Rep. Mauree Turner retained their seat in District 88, containing much of central and downtown Oklahoma City.