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Oklahoma Election Results: Kevin Stitt wins reelection for Governor, Ryan Walters becomes State Superintendent

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Kevin Stitt for Governor
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Gov. Kevin Stitt waves to supporters at Red Wave Rally in Oklahoma City in early November.

Kevin Stitt wins reelection for Oklahoma's Governor

Oklahoma voters re-elected Kevin Stitt as Oklahoma’s Governor for another four years.

The Republican incumbent won re-election with 55% of the vote over Democrat Joy Hofmeister, who had 42% of the vote. Some predicted – and local polling indicated – she was making a push to make the race close. That proved to be incorrect, as Hofmeister received about 20,000 votes fewer than Democratic candidate for Governor Drew Edmondson did in 2018.

Stitt and Hofmeister had been allies, but sparred during the pandemic over issues related to masking in public schools.

Stitt was first elected in 2018 as a political outsider and has often governed as one, too. During his first term, he was at odds with leaders of his own party in the legislature and the state’s Native American tribes. The state’s five largest tribes even endorsed Hofmeister, the first such move in recent memory.

Stitt ran harder to the right, rallying his base late in the campaign while hosting rallies with national GOP figures like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin.

Hofmeister ran on what she called an “aggressively moderate,” platform that prioritized issues like public education and healthcare access in a state that fares poorly in national rankings for both metrics.

Nonpartisan polling leading up to the election showed her moderation allowed her to garner support from centrists in her former party, as Stitt drifted further right, championing private school vouchers and privatizing the state’s Medicaid program. And that strategy appears to have paid off in a state where more than half of registered voters are Republicans and less than 30 percent are Democrats.

Libertarian Natalie Bruno and Independent Ervin Yen each came in with about 1.4% of the overall vote.

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Walters elected to oversee Oklahoma's public schools

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Oklahoma Secretary of Education Ryan Walters

Ryan Walters will be Oklahoma's next State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The race between Walters and his Democratic opponent Jena Nelson had months worth of attention-grabbing headlines in the bid to replace term-limited State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who left her role to run for governor. In the end, the Republican won by nearly 14 percentage points.

Walters is a familiar name in state government. Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed Walters as the Secretary of Education in 2020. He’s promoted conservative causes like enforcing Oklahoma’s so-called critical race theory ban House Bill 1775. Walters has also campaigned on expanding school choice by offering private school vouchers and barring transgender students from using the restroom corresponding with their gender identity.

Nelson — the 2020 statewide teacher of the year — made a name for herself by advocating for public education funding. She campaigned on public school funding and improving the availability of mental health resources for students. She also fiercely opposed private school vouchers.

Vicki Behenna becomes first woman to serve as Oklahoma County DA

In the Oklahoma County District Attorney race, Democrat Vicki Behenna has beat Republican Kevin Calvey, a county commissioner, by nearly nine percentage points.

Behenna,a former federal prosecutor who worked on the prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombing, will be the first woman to serve as district attorney in Oklahoma County.

District attorneys are the top law enforcement officials in their local county or district. They are on the ballot every four years, but do not have term limits. Behenna will take over for David Prater, a Democrat who has held the office for 15 years.

Voter turnout down from 2018

A little more than half of registered voters turned out to cast their ballots Tuesday.

Turnout was 50.3%, or more than 1.1 million voters. That number is roughly 34,000 less than what voter turnout was in the last midterm election in 2018, which saw voter turnout of more than 1,186,000.

As of the latest voter statistics from the Oklahoma State Election Board, nearly 2.3 million voters are registered in Oklahoma. There has been a net increase of more than 175,000 voters since November 2018.

Republicans make up over half of Oklahoma’s voting population at 51.19%, while Democrats make up 29.95% . It's the first time that official voter statistics show Democrats at less than 30% of registered voters.

Independents make up the third largest group in Oklahoma's voting population at 18% - and Libertarians make up less than 1%.

In the two largest counties — Oklahoma and Tulsa — there has been significant growth in Independent voters, while also seeing decreases in the Republican and Democratic party in those counties.

Mullin, Lankford take Oklahoma's U.S. Senate seats

The race to finish out the term of retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe ended with a definitive 62%-35% win from U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin over former Democratic congresswoman Kendra Horn.

Mullin has represented Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District for the last decade. Outside of politics, he also runs his family’s plumbing business, Mullin Plumbing.

As a U.S. Representative, Mullin sponsored legislation to prohibit mask mandates, expand rural access to broadband, classify late-term abortion as murder and resolutions to expunge former President Donald Trump’s impeachment.

Mullin is a Cherokee tribal citizen and will be the only tribal citizen serving in the Senate. He is also the first Native American in the U.S. Senate in nearly 20 years.

According to Mullin’s campaign website, he characterizes himself as a “tried-and-true conservative leader who will NEVER BACK DOWN to the D.C. liberal elites.” Mullin has said he’s “100% pro-life,” and favors a national ban on abortion without any exceptions for when the mother’s life is at risk or in cases of rape or incest.

As for cannabis, Mullin said he was against the legalization of medical cannabis in Oklahoma and is opposed to descheduling it.

Third party candidates made up about 3% of the vote, with Libertarian Robert Murphy taking about 2% and Independent Roy Woods taking about 1%.

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In the other Senate race, incumbent James Lankford's race was quickly called after polls closed. He beat Democrat Madison Horn by a vote of 64% to 32%. Libertarian Kenneth Blevins and Independent Michael Delaney each finished with nearly 2% of the vote. Lankford has held the seat since 2015. Oklahoma U.S. Senators are elected to serve six-year terms.

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Lucas, Hern, Cole & Bice win reelection, Brecheen heads to D.C.

It was a clean sweep for Republicans in Congressional seats.

Republican Kevin Hern secured re-election for Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District over Democrat Adam Martin and Independent Evelyn Rogers.

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Republican Tom Cole secured re-election for Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District over Democrat Mary Brannon.

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Republican Stephanie Bice secured re-election for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District over Democrat Joshua Harris-Till and Independent David Frosch.

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Republican Frank Lucas —who has served in Congress since 1994 — won re-election to Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District over Democratic challenger Jeremiah Ross. Oklahoma’s Third Congressional District spans 32 counties in northern and western Oklahoma, stretching from the Oklahoma panhandle to parts of Tulsa, and from Yukon to Altus in the southwest.

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We know who will replace Markwayne Mullin in the U.S. House District 2 seat. Republican Josh Brecheen, a former state senator and Congressional staffer, beat out Democrat Naomi Andrews and Independent Bulldog Ben Robinson. The seat represents much of the eastern part of Oklahoma, with more than 791,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census. The Congressional District also covers a good portion of Native land.

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Oklahoma City Public Schools infrastructure bonds pass

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Ryan LaCroix
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KOSU
Oklahoma City Public Schools

Oklahoma City Public Schools asked voters for almost $1 billion to make infrastructure improvements across the district. The bond will pay for some big projects: five new schools, a new multisport stadium and a bevy of renovations across the district. The bond issue will increase property taxes within OKCPS boundaries from 18 mills to 26 mills. That represents a rise of $8 per $1,000 of assessed value.

Republicans maintain supermajority in state legislature

Oklahoma Republicans maintained their 80-percent supermajority in both chambers. Only two seats shifted party in last night’s election: One in the Senate and one in the House.

Owasso Sen. JJ Dossett lost to his Republican opponent, Dana Prieto. Dossett was one of nine Democrats in the Senate, and he was the only one who consistently voted for anti-abortion legislation. Prieto refers to himself as very conservative and a far-right Republican, according to reporting by NonDoc.

Tulsa Republican Carol Bush did not run to keep her House seat. She was a moderate. Democratic candidate Suzanne Schrieber nabbed the seat. According to her campaign website, she focused on education and fighting extremism.

Other elections on Tuesday

Gentner Drummond elected as Attorney General

Republican Gentner Drummond easily won the Attorney General seat, beating Libertarian Lynda Steele by a vote of 73.76% to 26.24%. There was no Democratic challenger.

Drummond had been vying for the seat for some time. He ran against former Attorney General Mike Hunter in 2018 and again this year against current incumbent John O’Connor, beating him in a runoff. Drummond also has support from several tribal leaders at a time when the relationship between tribes and state leadership are tense over issues like tribal sovereignty, gaming compacts and tribal jurisdiction.

Matt Pinnell gets another term as Lieutenant Governor

Oklahoma's Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell won reelection for the second highest office in the executive branch. Pinnell grabbed 64.87% of the vote over Democrat Melinda Alizadeh-Fard, who had 31.01%. Libertarian Chris Powell received 4.12% of the vote.

Leslie Osborn reelected as Labor Commissioner

Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn will oversee workplace rights and safety issues in the state for another four years.

Before serving her first term, Osborn served a decade in the state legislature as a representative. She campaigned to expand efforts to educate high school students on skilled worker career tracks, such as plumbing and electricity, to fill those workforce shortages, according to The Oklahoman.

Osborn secured the Republican nomination against term-limited state Rep. Sean Roberts in the runoff.

Osborn won Tuesday's race by a vote of 66% to 29% over her Democratic opponent Jack Henderson. Libertarian opponent Will Daugherty finished with 5% of the vote. The state agency oversees worker’s compensation systems and inspects the safety of workplaces.

Todd Russ becomes State Treasurer

Term-limited State Representative Todd Russ will be Oklahoma’s next State Treasurer. He received 65% of the vote against Libertarian opponent Greg Sadler and Democrat Charles de Coune.

Russ’s campaign highlighted his experience as a banker and his roles on financial committees in the state legislature. Russ told NonDoc that as treasurer he intends to examine the state’s Unclaimed Property Program.

Russ is only the fourth Republic to serve as Oklahoma’s state treasurer, but the GOP has held the office since 2011.

Kim David selected for Corporation Commission

With a 64% to 31% victory, Porter Sen. Kim David took the Corporation Commission seat over Democrat Warigia Margaret Bowman, an energy and environment professor at the University of Tulsa.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates utility and telecommunications companies, as well as oil and gas drilling. Terms for the Corporation Commission are six years long, and commissioners can serve two times.

David has been a member of the Oklahoma Senate since 2010 and describes herself as a conservative, a “military mom” and a small business owner, running the property management company Sweetgum Properties, Inc. She worked in petroleum marketing for about a decade after graduating with a degree in petroleum geology.

David supported the Corporation Commission’s passage of a utility securitization plan that allowed some Oklahoma energy companies to surcharge consumers’ monthly bills to make up for the 2021 winter storm, saying the plan prevented the costs from being passed on directly to the consumer in a way that would’ve bankrupted families.

Independent Don Underwood also ran for the commission, garnering about 6% percent of the vote.

Hochatown votes to incorporate

With 100% of results in, citizens of the McCurtain County community of Hochatown in far southeastern Oklahoma have decided to incorporate their tiny tourist town.

Money has poured into the town from south of the Red River as it has grown into a tourist destination. Incorporation means more local control within the community and allows for the collection of lodging and sales taxes, paying for fire and police protection and other public services.

The final vote tally was 129 votes for the proposition to 18 against. The community has fewer than 300 residents.

Moore voters renew sales tax

Voters in Moore have overwhelming approved keeping a 3.875% sales tax in place, by a vote of 70.2% to 29.8%. The tax pays for public safety improvements and has funded police and fire department vehicles as well as street repairs in the past. The tax will now continue through March 2027.

Collinsville approves sales tax increase

By a vote of 58.3% to 41.7%, Collinsville voters have approved a half cent sales tax that will go toward funding a new fire station on the west side of the growing suburb, as well as a potential police station expansion.

Kay County approves funding of rural fire departments

Voters in Kay County have approved a sales tax increase to help fund rural fire departments, by a vote of 55.3% to 44.7%. Supporters say it will help fund improvements for fire and EMS services throughout Kay County. Ponca City commissioners criticized the proposition and declined to pass a resolution supporting it.


ORIGINAL POST

The November 8th election will decide many statewide, federal and local races. We will be taking live, anchored NPR Election Night Special Coverage beginning at 7 p.m.

Native voters getting to the polls

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Allison Herrera
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KOSU
Laverne Kahookele voted for the first time in Oklahoma. She's a citizen of the Muscogee Nation and took advantage of their transit system that was giving rides to people to the polls.

Muscogee Nation provided rides for people to the polls throughout their reservation. Muscogee Nation transit was on duty in Okemah, Eufaula, Okmulgee, Glenpool and Bristow throughout election day.

Transit workers picked up and dropped off voters and offered them a ride home, too.

Laverne Kahookele took advantage of the service. She doesn't have a car and relies on the transit system to get around.

She said this was her first time voting in Oklahoma and cares about education and tribal sovereignty. She said it mattered to her when leaders of the Five Tribes endorsed Hofmeister, and she values her experience in education.

Motivated Native voters could play a significant role in this election, as some feel like tribal sovereignty is on the ballot this election, especially in Oklahoma's gubernatorial race.

Last month, leaders of the state's five largest tribes made an unprecedented endorsement of Joy Hofmeister for governor. They pointed to her respect for tribal sovereignty, willingness to work with tribes on public safety, and her commitment to education.

Incumbent Governor Kevin Stitt is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation, but has had a frosty relationship with the tribes over disputes on gaming compacts, criminal justice, hunting and fishing licenses and taxes.

The 2018 and 2020 elections demonstrated the growing power of Indigenous voters. In 2018, a record number of Native candidates ran and won seats in Congress and state legislatures. During the 2020 presidential election, Native American voters were key to swing races in Arizona and Wisconsin, both of which went for Joe Biden.

ACLU fields couple of calls about straight party voting

An ACLU spokesperson says the organization has fielded a pair of calls on its Election Protection Hotline about issues with straight party voting.

The calls came from Oklahoma and Cleveland Counties and have both been resolved, said Cassidy Fallik, a spokesperson for the ACLU of Oklahoma.

Fallik said the organization has heard a bit more chatter about poll workers encouraging straight party voting.

Anyone who has issues or is told how to vote can contact the ACLU of Oklahoma’s Election Protection Hotline at 405-849-5220.


Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 a.m. We'll post results here as they begin pouring in later tonight.

Also, KOSU has been airing The Middle on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. CT leading up to the November 8th election. The Middle is a live call-in show which has voters from the middle of the country weigh in on issues, like the economy and polarized political discourse.

Tomorrow night's theme is: "What do the election results mean for your community, and what are your hopes for the work your elected officials can get done moving forward?"

You can leave a message at 1-844-464-3353, or you can post a comment here.

Check your polling place

The state election board has some tips for voters.

After the recent redistricting process, some Oklahomans may be voting in different districts than they’re used to, or at different polling places. To make sure you’re going to the proper place to vote, visit the OK Voter Portal online, or call your county election board. Voters can only cast a ballot at their assigned polling location.

Sample ballots are also available at that OK Voter Portal website, if you want to see what you’re voting on beforehand.

What do I need to bring with me?

Oklahoma requires proof of identity to vote, so bring a valid photo ID from the state, federal, or tribal government, or your voter ID card. Otherwise, you’ll have to cast a provisional ballot that won’t be counted until after election day.

Some acceptable forms of ID include:

You are also allowed to bring any notes, guides or information you need to the polls for the races you're deciding on.

Do I have to fill out everything on my ballot?

No, you do not have to fill out everything on your ballot. Oklahoma also offers straight-party voting for the following political parties: Republican, Democrat and Libertarian.

Updated: November 9, 2022 at 12:42 AM CST
Kateleigh Mills is the Special Projects reporter for KOSU.
Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
Xcaret Nuñez covers agriculture and rural communities for KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
Beth Wallis is StateImpact Oklahoma's education reporter
Graycen Wheeler is a reporter covering water issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
Catherine Sweeney reports for StateImpact Oklahoma, focusing on health.
Rachel Hubbard serves as KOSU's executive director.
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