Bice Advances, Bynum Wins Again, Oklahoma County Will Elect First Black Sheriff
State Senator Stephanie Bice advances to face Congresswoman Kendra Horn, Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum avoids predicted runoff, three incumbent state Senators lose and Oklahoma County will have its first Black sheriff.
BICE ADVANCES TO FACE HORN
Republican State Senator Stephanie Bice will face Democratic Incumbent Kendra Horn in the race for Congressional District 5, which includes portions of Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole Counties.
In a heated and negative race with numerous out-of-state expenditures by political action committees such as Club for Growth, the 46-year-old Bice narrowly won the race against Neese with nearly 53% of the vote. Neese, who directly tied her campaign with loyalty to President Donald Trump, got the most votes in June’s primary but failed to get more than 50%.
Bice has been known as a moderate Republican state senator who helped organize around issues including modernizing the state’s alcohol laws.
Horn, a moderate Democrat, narrowly defeated Republican incumbent Steve Russell in 2018. She became known for her ability to build coalitions and her grassroots campaign. In 2020, the seat has been targeted nationally as one of those most likely for Republicans to flip in their favor.
TULSA MAYOR WINS SECOND TERM, AVOIDS RUNOFF
Incumbent G.T. Bynum won a second term after drawing a number of challengers following missteps leading up to the election. He drew criticism for not pushing back against the indoor rally President Donald Trump held at the BOK Center on June 20. Local and national health officials said the event would be a ‘super spreader’ for the COVID-19 virus, but Bynum allowed it to proceed in spite of their advice.
That rally coincided with the Tulsa Juneteenth Celebration, one of the largest in the country, and came on the heels of the 99th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. In a televised interview with CBS News, Bynum was asked about the 2016 shooting death of Terrence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, at the hands of Tulsa County Deputy Betty Shelby. When asked what role race played in Crutcher’s death, Bynum responded that drugs likely played more of a role than race. That drew criticism from Crutcher’s sister who moved to Tulsa after his death to help organize the community around racial healing. That response encouraged Greg Robinson II, a community organizer and former campaign organizer for Barack Obama, to run.
Robinson was widely seen as the only challenger to Bynum who had the potential to force the non-partisan race into a runoff. He garnered 28.82% of the vote. Bynum had to win at least 50% to avoid the runoff. He received 51.86% of the 70,745 votes cast in Tuesday’s mayoral election.
TWO INCUMBENT SHERIFFS GO DOWN
Oklahoma County will have its first Black sheriff following the November 2020 General Election. Republican challenger Tommie Johnson defeated incumbent P.D. Taylor in the runoff with 60.22% percent of the vote.
Taylor was elected to be sheriff in 2017 after his predecessor John Whetsel resigned under suspected financial malpractice.
Johnson is an Oklahoma City native who is running on a platform of safer communities, fiscal responsibility and partnerships. He also says he wants to focus on modernizing the sheriff’s office to improve relationships with the troubled Oklahoma County Jail and various constituencies. Former Republican Congressman Steve Russell and former Governor Frank Keating endorsed Johnson in the runoff.
Johnson will face Wayland Cubit, a Democrat, who is employed by the Oklahoma City Police Department. During his career, he has focused on community and youth outreach in an effort to reduce interactions with law enforcement. In his platform, he says he is running to create solutions that will allow people, no matter their race, to thrive in Oklahoma County.
Both Johnson and Cubit are Black and one will take command at a time when policing of minority communities is under intense scrutiny.
In Payne County, Incumbent Sheriff Kevin Woodward lost to Joe Harper. No Democrat filed in the race, so Harper will become the new sheriff. Woodward was previously the Logan County sheriff, but this was his first run in Payne County as he was appointed to the office in 2019 when R.B. Hauf retired. Harper lives in Glencoe and is a deputy in the Payne County sheriff’s office. He became known locally during the race for what he called honest talk and for his distinctive mustache and cowboy hat. Harper received 56.04% of the vote to Woodward’s 43.96%.
THREE INCUMBENT STATE SENATORS LOSE
All of the incumbent state senators running for reelection in Tuesday’s runoff were defeated.
In the southeast Oklahoma area known as Little Dixie, Larry Boggs became the first Republican in decades to win Senate District 7, a seat thought to be a stronghold for Democrats. It was long held by Gene Stipe. Boggs was defeated Tuesday by Warren Hamilton, an even more conservative Republican, who ran as an abortion abolitionist. The race was heated, and at a recent event, it was reported that an argument between the two candidates nearly rose to the level of becoming a physical fight. Hamilton now faces Jerry Donathan, who won the Democratic primary in June.
Just east of Oklahoma City, incumbent Ron Sharp was defeated by former Republican State Representative Shane Jett in the Republican runoff for Senate District 17. Sharp, a former public school teacher, is widely known for his public criticism of Epic Charter Schools. He demanded additional accountability for the state funds granted to Epic through the school funding formula. Administrators of the school sued Sharp for slander, but an Oklahoma County district judge recently ruled against them and levied a $500,000 fine against the school for filing the lawsuit. Jett, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, has been working for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation since an unsuccessful bid for Congressional District 5 in 2010. He was fired from that job in late July and later filed an emergency injunction against Chairman John ‘Rocky’ Barrett. In the lawsuit, Jett claimed Barrett fired him for speaking out against the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s mask ordinances surrounding COVID-19. Jett advances to the November General Election, where he will face Libertarian Greg Sadler. No Democrat filed in the race.
In Senate District 43, which covers portions of Grady, McClain, Stephens and Garvin counties in south central Oklahoma, Republican incumbent Paul Scott missed winning the June primary by 0.1 percent of the vote. On Tuesday, he lost to challenger Jessica Garvin by nearly 300 votes. The race turned negative when Scott called Garvin a ‘liberal political insider’ and created a website to ‘tell the truth about her’. Garvin advances to face Democrat Terri Reimer in the general election. The three incumbent state senators who lost Tuesday join Republican Wayne Shaw who lost his bid for reelection when he was defeated in the June primary.
In southeast Oklahoma's Senate District 5, George Burns won the Republican runoff by only 22 votes over Justin Jackson. The seat was left vacant after Joseph Silk decided to challenge Markwayne Mullin in Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District. Burns will face Democrat Randy Coleman in November.
In northeast Oklahoma's Senate District 35, Cheryl Baber advanced with 53% of the vote over Kyden Creekpaum. Baber had been endorsed by Gary Stanislawski, who termed out this year. Baber will face Democrat Jo Anna Dossett in November.
In northeastern Oklahoma's House District 71, Mike Masters captured 61% of the vote over Beverly Atteberry. Masters will face incumbent Democrat Denise Brewer in November. In northeastern Oklahoma's House District 79, Margie Alfonso won 59% of the vote over Clay Iiams. Alfonso will face incumbent Democrat Melissa Provenzano in November.
With no candidates from other parties awaiting, Preston Stinson will become the new state representative in central Oklahoma's House District 96. He beat Margaret Best on Tuesday with nearly 60% of the vote. The seat had been held by Republican Lewis Moore since 2009, but he became term limited in 2020.
NORMAN SAYS NO, NO, NO, NO
Voters in Norman rejected four separate general obligation bonds, referred to as GO Norman 2020.
At a combined cost of about $120 million, the bond propositions were aimed at finishing the remaining Norman FORWARD projects, addressing homelessness in the city, renovating and expanding municipal facilities and developing a relief program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
If the four bonds had been approved, the average Norman homeowner would have paid about $14 a month to fund them.
Voters in 50 of Oklahoma's 77 counties head to the polls today for the August 25th primary runoff and special election to decide Republican nominees in a Congressional race and in state lawmaker races, as well as the Tulsa mayoral races and county sheriff runoffs.
CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT 5
One of the main races tonight is who will be the Republican challenger in November against Democratic U.S. Representative Kendra Horn of Congressional District 5.
Businesswoman Terry Neese and State Senator Stephanie Bice both earned more than a quarter of the vote in the June primaries in a race that had nine candidates. Although Neese had more than a 11% edge on Bice, neither candidate earned the required 50% to avoid a runoff.
This district has been targeted by Republicans in 2020. Horn won against incumbent Republican Steve Russell in 2018 by a thin margin. Just two years prior, the district voted for President Donald Trump by a margin of about 13 points.
TULSA MAYORAL RACE
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum is running for re-election against a crowded field of candidates. Bynum has faced blowback over comments made about the death of Terence Crutcher and over hosting President Donald Trump's rally during the pandemic.
Community organizer Greg Robinson II is seen as Bynum's biggest challenger. With six active candidates, the race will likely be headed to a runoff election.
OKLAHOMA COUNTY SHERIFF
Oklahoma County will be deciding on the Republican nominee for County Sheriff. The race is between incumbent P.D. Taylor and challenger Tommie Johnson. The decision will decide who will go up against Democrat Wayland Cubit in November.
The counties of Cleveland, Delaware, Garfield, Latimer, LeFlore, Muskogee, Payne and Washington also have Republican runoff elections for County Sheriff.
There are eight Republican runoffs in the state legislature:
- Senate District 5 (open seat): George Burns versus Justin Jackson
- Senate District 7: incumbent Larry Boggs versus challenger Warren Hamilton
- Senate District 17: incumbent Ron Sharp versus challenger Shane Jett
- Senate District 35 (open seat): Kyden Creekpaum versus Cheryl Baber
- Senate District 43: incumbent Paul Scott versus challenger Jessica Garvin
- House District 71: Mike Masters versus Beverly Atteberry
- House District 79: Clay Iiams versus Margie Alfonso
- House District 96 (open seat): Preston Stinson versus Margaret Best
Norman residents will vote on four separate general obligation bonds, referred to as GO Norman 2020, which consist of projects with a combined cost of about $120 million.
The bond propositions aim to finish the remaining Norman FORWARD projects, address homelessness in the city, renovate and expand municipal facilities and develop a relief program for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
VOTING IN A PANDEMIC
The Oklahoma State Election Board has developed COVID-19 safety protocols at polling places for today's primary runoff and local or county elections.
Poll workers at county election boards and polling places have been supplied with personal protective equipment such as hand sanitizer, gloves, masks and disinfectant. Safety protocols will include placing voting booths six feet apart and disinfecting voting equipment.
Voters are asked to follow signage and procedures. State election officials also strongly recommend voters wear a mask or face covering.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The State Election Board suggests voters verify their polling place since some locations have changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Oklahoma Engaged is a public service journalism collaboration of KOSU, KGOU, KWGS, KCCU, and StateImpact Oklahoma with support from the Inasmuch Foundation, the Kirkpatrick Foundation, Oklahoma Humanities and listener contributions.