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Who and what's on the ballot for the August 23rd runoff election in Oklahoma

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Xcaret Nuñez / KOSU
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Editors Note: Click the link below for results from the Aug. 23 primary runoff election.

Oklahoma voters whittled down candidates for state superintendent, U.S. Senate and U.S. House races, several statewide offices, and nearly a dozen state legislative seats on Tuesday.

The runoff election on Tuesday, Aug. 23 will narrow the candidate pool for several federal and state offices such as, superintendent, treasurer, U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.

The latest data from the Oklahoma State Election Board shows that as of the end of July, there was a gain of nearly 30,000 registered voters since the end of April, for a total of 2,267,047. Of that total, Republicans accounted for nearly 51% of voters registered, while Democrats made up nearly 31%, Independents made up 17% and Libertarians made up nearly 1%.

Below, we highlight some of the races.

The Race to Replace Inhofe

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Congressman Markwayne Mullin (left) and former state House speaker T.W. Shannon (right) face off in a Republican runoff election for U.S. Senate.

Congressman Markwayne Mullin racked up a large portion of the early and absentee vote in the Republican primary in June, but did not clear the 50-percent mark. He is facing former state House speaker T.W. Shannon in this runoff.

The two candidates outlasted a field of 13 in the primary, as they hope to fill the remainder of longtime Senator Jim Inhofe's term. Inhofe, who has been in office since 1994, announced in February he was retiring from Congress.

Both candidates are enrolled citizens of tribal nations — Mullin is Cherokee and Shannon is Chickasaw. If either is elected in November, they will become the only current Indigenous U.S. Senator, and just the fifth in the history of the Senate.

The eventual Republican nominee will face former Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn, Libertarian candidate Robert Murphy and Independent candidate Ray Woods in the November general election.

The Other Senate Race

In Oklahoma’s other Senate race, incumbent Senator James Lankford won his primary race in June.

Still needing to be decided is the Democratic challenger between Stilwell-native cybersecurity professional Madison Horn and Oklahoma City lawyer Jason Bollinger. The winner of that runoff will appear on the ballot against Lankford, Libertarian Kenneth Blevins and Independent Michael Delaney in the November general election.

Congressional District 2

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Former state Senator Josh Brecheen (left) faces current state Rep. Avery Frix (right) in Congressional District 2.

State representative Avery Frix and former state senator Josh Brecheen are facing each other in the Republican runoff race for Congressional District 2.

The seat, which is currently held by Senate candidate Markwayne Mullin, 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.

Frix and Brecheen were the top two vote getters out of a field of 14 Republican candidates in the primary, which included the former chairman of the Oklahoma GOP, law enforcement officers and other current and former state lawmakers.

A News On 6 / News 9 poll shows a tight race between the two, with Frix holding a six-point lead and a large portion of Republicans polled still self-identifying as undecided.

The winner advances to the November general election to face Democrat Naomi Andrews and Independent Ben Robinson.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

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Shawnee Superintendent April Grace (left) faces Kevin Stitt's Secretary of Education Ryan Walters in the Republican runoff for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

State Secretary of Education Ryan Walters will face Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace in the Republican runoff for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The winner squares off against Democrat Jena Nelson in November.

In the June primary, Walters won among four GOP candidates with 41 percent of the vote to second place finisher Grace’s 30 percent.

Walters is a Stitt cabinet appointee, but he’s also the executive director of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, a nonprofit that pays him at least $120,000 a year, according to a recent investigation from The Frontier and Oklahoma Watch. Much of the nonprofit’s funds come from school privatization efforts.

The Frontier also found Walters failed to report campaign expenditures in his bid for State Superintendent — a violation of state ethics laws.

Grace is a longtime Oklahoma educator. According to her campaign website, her vision for education opposes the teaching of what she calls critical race theory. She also wants less regulation on federal education dollars coming to Oklahoma and touts how many in-person days Shawnee Public Schools had during the height of the pandemic.

An Amber Integrated poll released earlier this month shows Walters holds a 14-point lead among likely Republican voters.

State Treasurer

Term-limited state representative Todd Russ will face former State Tax Commission Chairman Clark Jolley in the Republican runoff.

Russ is currently serving his sixth term in the state House, representing Cordell in southwest Oklahoma. He said his 35 years of banking experience have prepared him to take on the position. If elected, he said he plans to look into the state’s Unclaimed Property Program, according to NonDoc.

Jolley served 12 years as a state senator and as the State’s Secretary of Finance. If elected, he plans to advance the Treasurer office’s use of technology.

In recent news, Russ has been defending his banking record when he managed a small bank in western Oklahoma. Russ told The Oklahoman he wasn’t responsible for what was called “unsafe and unsound banking practices” by the Federal Deposit Insurance corporation in 2009.

At a debate between the candidates hosted by News 9 and NonDoc, the candidates took digs at one another — Russ accused Jolley of raising taxes on fossil fuels, and with prompt from moderators, they talked about remarks made by Russ in 2016 where he said Native Americans are “predisposed” to alcoholism. Russ apologized for the comment soon after.

The winning candidate will face Democrat Charles De Coune and Libertarian Gregory Sadler in November.

Current State Treasurer Randy McDaniel announced in 2021 that he would not be seeking reelection in order to prioritize his family. The candidate who takes over his seat will oversee about $22 billion of state money each year.

Labor Commissioner

During primary elections in June, Republicans narrowed their candidate field for a new Labor Commissioner, a position that oversees workplace rights and safety issues within Oklahoma.

Incumbent Leslie Osborn will try to defend her seat in the runoff against term-limited representative Sean Roberts. In the June primary, Osborn secured a vote of 48% to Roberts’ 38%.

Osborn is wrapping up her first term as labor commissioner and previously served a decade in the state legislature as a representative. In an interview with NonDoc, Osborn said she was proud to have helped develop the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Consultation Service Program.

Roberts is currently serving his sixth term in the state House. He sponsored a bill this legislative session that would have required Oklahoma voters to re-register to vote.

Earlier this month, five Republican lawmakers also cited decades-old court documents that detail alleged domestic abuse in Roberts’ previous marriage and called for him to drop out of the race. Roberts’ called the abuse allegations a “political hit job” by Osborn. A press release from Roberts’ campaign managers says his ex-wife has “nothing bad to say about him.”

The winner will face Democrat Jack Henderson and Libertarian Will Daugherty in November.

Oklahoma County District Attorney

Oklahoma County voters selected Vicki Behenna as the Democratic candidate for District Attorney in June. On the Republican side, Oklahoma County Commissioner and former state lawmaker Kevin Calvey fell just barely short of the 50 percent, and is headed to a runoff against Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger.

In recent news, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into Calvey’s campaign related to “investigate campaign-related expenditures” from his campaign.

Calvey accused Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater of having him investigated as part of a political agenda, according to The Oklahoman. Prater said the information referred to other agencies and entities is being looked at in “an independent manner.”

Oklahoma Corporation Commission

Senator Kim David and former Rep. Todd Thomsen face off in the runoff to fill a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The seat is currently held by Dana Murphy, who is term-limited and cannot run for a third six-year term.

The OCC is the regulatory agency for the state, particularly for oil and gas, public utilities and transportation.

David, who received 45 percent of the vote in June, is at the end of a 12-year run as a state Senator out of Porter in eastern Oklahoma. Thomsen served in the state House from 2006 to 2018, including a stint as the chair of the Utilities Committee and on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He received nearly 27 percent of the vote in June.

Oklahoma County Commissioner

Oklahoma County Commissioner of District 1 incumbent Carrie Blumert faces a runoff election against former state lawmaker Anastasia Pittman in the Democratic race. Pittman received nearly 600 votes more than Blumert in the June election, but did not secure 50 percent of the vote required to win. The winner will face Republican Willard Linzy in November.

Myles Davidson and Amy Alexander will face off in the Republican race for Oklahoma County Commissioner of District 3. The winner will face Democrat Cathy Cummings, a former city council member of The Village, in November.

Tulsa City Council

All nine seats on the Tulsa City Council are up for a vote on Tuesday. The Tulsa World recently asked the same set of questions of all candidates. You can find their answers, broken down by each race, here.

Propositions

Newcastle Public Schools - Voters in Newcastle will decide on two propositions, totaling $79.7 million. The school bonds would fund updated school security, new storm shelters and additional classrooms to alleviate overcrowding and prepare for future growth. New school buses, textbooks and playground equipment are also included in the bonds. This bond would replace an expiring bond, so there is no projected tax increase for residents.

Bridge Creek Public Schools - Voters in Bridge Creek will cast ballots on a school bond proposition to the tune of $10.8 million. The bond will fund new classrooms at each school site and a science lab at the high school. There is no proposed tax increase for residents.

The City of Bethany - Voters in Bethany will decide on four bond propositions, totaling $15 million. The GO Bond would fund improvements to roadways, five city parks and stormwater drainage. There would also be maintenance and upgrades done at the city’s police station, fire station and animal welfare facility. Passage of all four bonds would increase property taxes by $3.83 per month for homes valued at $100,000.

Garfield County - Garfield County residents will vote on a sales tax increase to expand and renovate the county’s jail. The nearly $8.5 million bond would help with overcrowding by adding 82 beds and 16,000 square feet, in addition to renovations to the current building. The county sales tax would increase by 0.3 percent to 9.65 percent, which would still keep it in the lower third of county sales taxes in the state.

City Charter amendments for Tulsa and Norman - Tulsa voters will see three propositions on their ballot and Norman voters will see nine propositions. These are amendments to their city charters, regarding powers, functions and procedures of its government. More information can be found here: Tulsa | Norman.


There are many more races and issues being decided by voters on Tuesday. You can view a full list here.

Ryan LaCroix is the Director of Content and Audience Development for KOSU.
Kateleigh Mills returned to KOSU in December 2019 as Special Projects Reporter, following a year-long stint at KWBU in Waco, Texas.
Robby Korth joined StateImpact Oklahoma in October 2019, focusing on education reporting.
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