Primaries are over, what next?

Last week there were statewide primary elections in over 40 districts. This included three congressional seats, county commissioners, and the state legislature (house and senate). While some races saw dramatic wins, others had closer margins with one vote wins. These races that did not receive a majority of the vote will head to a runoff election August 27th.


HD 88

One race that garnered much attention, House District (HD) 88, saw three candidates aiming for the seat left open by incumbent Rep. Mauree Turner. Citing health concerns, Rep. Turner chose not to seek re-election. Their election as a black, Muslim, non-binary individual highlighted the district as one of the most progressive spaces in OKC, and in recent years, it was one of the most engaged areas for voters.

With three Democratic candidates and one independent running for the seat, people were anticipating a fair amount of voter turnout. One candidate, Paula Sophia (D), had previously run for the seat and lost by a narrow margin. Nicole Maldonado (D), who previously served as Rep. Turner’s legislative assistant, entered the race later than the others, but hit the ground running.

Ellen Pogemiller ended up winning the Democratic primary with 53% of the vote. Across the board, all the candidates remarked on a significantly lower voter turnout than previous years, which is a surprise for the district overall.

SD 48

With the announcement of Sen. George Young’s resignation earlier this year, Senate District (SD) 48 also held a primary to fulfill the rest of his term. Sen. Young holds a lot of respect in either party and across the halls of the capitol, so this election was widely discussed.

The race was between Connie Johnson, who has previously served in the State Senate for SD 48, and current City Councilor Nikki Nice. Nice, who was also publicly endorsed by Sen. Young, ended up winning with 73% of the vote.

SD 33

With Sen. Nathan Dahm reaching the end of his term limits, the open seat brought four different candidates vying to fill the seat. Sen. Dahm currently serves as the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, and the seat covers a conservative part of east Tulsa and Broken Arrow.

Electors favored Christi Gillespie, who has served Ward 3 on Broken Arrow City Council since 2019, and vice mayor since 2021. However, she only won 44% of the vote, so she will face a run-off election in August with Shelley Gwartney who took 25% of the vote.

SD 46

In another widely discussed race on the Democratic side, SD 46 saw two candidates face off in a tight race. The seat is open due to the term limit of Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd. Mark Mann, who took the race by a narrow margin, comes from serving on several boards including Oklahoma City Public Schools. With 53% of the vote, he edged out Sam Wargin Grimaldo, a first-generation American, attorney, and community leader in the district.

Mann will face a Republic and Independent candidate in the November general election.

HD 90

Another seat vacated by term limits, HD 90 was another key race in the Oklahoma City area. Jon Echols completed his time at the capitol and finished as the longest-serving Majority Floor Leader in state history.

The primary race included Echols’ brother, Matt Echols, currently working as a mediator, and Emily Gise, a self-described conservative advocate who took home 53% of the vote. She will face a Democrat, Nana Abram Dankwa, in the general election.

HD 99

In a race filled with prior legal concerns, Democrat incumbent Ajay Pittman secured her seat representing NE OKC with 53% of the vote. Prior to the election, both candidates faced legal concerns, with one focused on campaign finance misuse and the other on misrepresentation on a food stamps form.

HD 100

One of the most packed races, with primaries for both parties, HD 100 saw some dramatic wins on both sides. Incumbent Marilyn Stark secured 70% of the vote for the Republican primary. For the Democrats, Chaunte Gilmore also secured 70% of the vote. Stark and Gilmore also faced each other in the 2022 general election.

HD 100 is a diverse district economically and demographically. It also contains some of the higher crime rates in the city, paired with very wealthy areas just down NW Expressway into Bethany. The general election is bound to be a close race if voters stay engaged.

SD 25

With Sen. Joe Newhouse not seeking re-election, citing his military service, SD 25 saw a Republican primary as well. Current Rep. Jeff Boatman lost to Bixby Mayor Brian Guthrie. Boatman had been known in the capitol for his work in food insecurity for many communities in Oklahoma. Guthrie will face Democrat Karen Gaddis in November.


Incumbents OUT:

In a surprising turn of events, several Republican incumbents lost their seats in this primary. In one of the biggest shocks (and voter turnouts), Senate Floor Leader and President Pro Temp elect Greg McCortney lost to challenger Jonathon Wingard by 261 votes. Many conservatives had been disappointed in the Senate’s overall performance during the session, and new candidates harnessed this fervor.

Jessica Garvin out of the Duncan area also lost her seat in a narrow margin, 47% to McClain County Assessor Kendal Sacchieri who took 53%.

In one of the more aggressive smear campaigns, incumbent John Talley out of the Stillwater area was the only House member to lose their seat. The victor, Molly Jenkins, a former teacher, published an 8-page flyer accusing Talley of having a “six-year reign of absurd liberalism”.

Last session, Talley worked on a bill seeking to ban corporal punishment for disabled students in schools that was co-authored by Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd.  He’s also an ordained minister that works with OSU student-athletes’ FSA program.


What now?

10 legislative elections will face run-off elections in August; the rest of the candidates will be gearing up for November. With incumbents being knocked out and other races having extremely close margins, it’s clear that every vote matters, and people are paying attention. However, it’s up to you if the people watching these races have your best interest at heart. Many national organizations are pushing more money into races to move states closer to their agenda. Oklahoma deserves to have the best people representing us to make us Top 10.