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Five Things You Should Know About Tuesday’s Election

Former college professor Tom Guild and former state Sen. Al McAffrey will compete in Tuesday's District 5 primary run-off.

The lineup for November’s general election ballot will be settled after candidates in one congressional and 13 legislative races face off Tuesday.

The run-off elections will feature the top two vote earners from the June primaries in races where no candidate received at least 50 percent of the votes.  

Districts in much of the state won’t vote because their legislative and congressional match-ups for the general election have already been set.

Here are five things to keep in mind about Tuesday’s elections:

Republican Races Dominate

All but two of the 13 legislative races will pit Republican candidates against each other.

GOP run-offs will be held for Senate Districts 13, 19, 23, 25 31, 39 and 41 and House Districts 8, 16, 60 and 67.

Democrats will then face off in House Districts 16 and 85.

The only U.S. congressional contest with a run-off will feature two Democrats. Small business owner Al McAffrey will compete against former college professor Tom Guild in the District 5 primary. The winner will face Libertarian Zachary Knight and Republican incumbent Steve Russell in the Nov. 8 general election.

Second Test for Education Candidates

The so-called “teacher caucus” will face another test in the run-off.

The informal group is made up of dozens of current and former educators and public-education advocates who filed for election earlier this year. They are largely political newcomers campaigning on a pledge to secure more money for common education.

Oklahoma Educators and Parents for Public Education, a Facebook group with more than 24,460 members, endorsed dozens of these candidates before the June primary. Organizers of the group also started a political action committee, Oklahomans for Public Education, to help elect certain candidates.

Although many of the candidates backed by the group lost their primary battles, several won and advanced to the general election.

Eleven candidates endorsed by the group will face challengers in GOP run-offs:

  • Greg McCortney faces Jet McCoy in Senate District 13.
  • Roland Pederson faces Ross Vanhooser in Senate District 19.
  • Lonnie Paxton faces Matt Stacy in Senate District 23.
  • Lisa Kramer faces Joe Newhouse in Senate District 25.
  • Dave Rader faces Amanda Teegarden in Senate District 39.
  • Adam Pugh faces Paul Blair in Senate District 41.
  • Tom McCloud faces Scott McEachin in House District 67.

Meanwhile, two GOP races will pit two candidates endorsed by the education group against each other:

  • Rhonda Baker and Chad Slane in House District 60.
  • Toni Hasenbeck and Chris Kidd in Senate District 31.

School-Choice Groups Weigh In

School-choice proponents are supporting several candidates in the run-offs.

Oklahoma Federation for Children Action Fund, a school-choice political action committee that favors vouchers to attend private schools, spent thousands in independent expenditures on several candidates in recent weeks.

Unlike typical contributions, independent expenditures don’t flow directly to a candidate. They pay directly for campaign ads, mailers and other activities and must be made without the coordination or solicitation of the candidate.

The PAC’s expenditures in August include:

  • $7,844 in support of McEachin in House District 67.
  • $12,692 in support of Newhouse and $12,166 in opposition to Kramer in Senate District 25.

The group, which received $125,000 from its Washington-based parent organization in June, also supported Stacey and Vanhooser in their races earlier this year.
No Incumbents

Three incumbent legislators – Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan; Rep. Ken Walker, R-Tulsa; and Sen. Corey Brooks, R-Washington – were defeated in the June primary election.

Don’t look for that trend to continue on Tuesday: There are no sitting lawmakers on the run-off ballot for any of the congressional or legislative races. Only political newcomers are battling to reach November.

That means without the typical incumbents’ advantage of name recognition, door-to-door outreach has been important in the run-off campaigns.

Fundraising Rolls On

That’s not to say significant money hasn’t flowed into the races.

The latest campaign filings, which list contributions through Aug. 8, show the 14 candidates in Senate run-offs have raised an average of $88,534 this election cycle. The 12 House candidates in run-offs have raised an average of about $31,860.

The race that has raked in the most money is the Senate District 13 run-off. McCortney has raised $114,545, which includes a $45,000 loan, and McCoy has raised $156,277.

The race with the second-highest spending is in Senate District 41, between Republicans Blair, a Baptist pastor and former NFL player, and Pugh, a former Air Force captain.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that produces in-depth and investigative content on public-policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to oklahomawatch.org.

The contest has brought in $241,316, with Blair raising $67,810 and Pugh raising $173,507. Pugh’s amount includes an $80,000 loan he made to his campaign. Blair has loaned his campaign $5,000.

The race with the least amount of money is the Democratic House District 16 runoff. Anna Dearmore has raised $10,355 and Ronnie Kell has raised $11,4223.

For the congressional run-off, McAffrey has raised $41,976 and Guild has raised $32,620 this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission filings that run through Aug. 3.

Both of those fall far short of the $635,146 raised by the GOP incumbent Russell during the same period.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation whose mission is to produce in-depth and investigative journalism on public-policy and quality-of-life issues facing the state.
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