story by Ryan Saylor
Voters in Oklahoma went to the polls Tuesday (June 24) to decide nominees in a variety of statewide and local primary races. Perhaps the race receiving the most attention statewide and even nationally is the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, who is leaving the Senate with two years left on his term.
Former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon of Lawton faced off against U.S. Rep. James Lankford of Edmond in the Republican primary for Coburn's seat, as well as five other largely unknown candidates. Lankford won the election with a commanding 57.5% of the vote to Shannon's 34.3%, with 97% of the precincts reporting statewide.
It is a change of fortunes for Shannon, who was believed to be making up ground across the state, especially in urban Tulsa County, before a slate of negative ads drew Coburn into the race, speaking against negative ads and in favor of Lankford. Lankford did not waste anytime moving into general election mode, telling supports at a watch party in Oklahoma City that it is time to remove burdensome federal regulations negatively impacting Oklahoma citizens. He also took a jab at Obamacare, which is sure to be a narrative of his fall campaign.
"It's not enough for us to complain about this, it's not enough for us to make speeches about this. Americans aren't being heard by Mr. Obama. We have to make policy to protect Americans and the people of Oklahoma from the harmful affects of this law. We have to repeal this and we have to bring real conservative solutions to bear. The job is clear when we get to Obamacare.”
Three candidates are vying for the Democratic nomination, with State Sen. Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City leading with 43% of the vote to perennial candidate Jim Rogers' 36%. Patrick Michael Hates is currently polling at 21%, meaning Johnson and Rogers will face each other in a runoff set for Aug. 26.
Interestingly, Oklahoma has another U.S. Senate race on the ballot this year, as U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's term was up for re-election. The former Tulsa mayor, who himself started his Senate career finishing U.S. Sen. David Boren's unfinished term in 1994, faced four opponents in his bid for the nomination, but cruised to a win with 87.7% of the vote. His next closest opponent, Erick Paul Wyatt, brought in only 4.5%. Inhofe faces Democrat Matt Silverstein in the fall.
The race for State School Superintendent of Public Instruction drew a lot of attention during the primary, as incumbent Janet Barresi faced lagging poll numbers and a wave of unpopularity, which ultimately proved too much for her to secure the Republican nomination in her re-election fight. Barresi lost the nomination to Joy Hofmeister, who has been on the Oklahoma State Board of Education since January 2012.
Barresi had attempted education reforms while in office, but without much luck. While Barresi should have benefitted from the power of incumbency, her lagging poll numbers showed a candidate in trouble nearly two months out from the election. Hofmeister will face either Democrat John Cox or Freda Deskin in the fall election. Both will face each other in the August runoff after Cox received only 41.4% of the vote, while Deskin received 36.8%. Jack C. Herron Jr. trailing at 13.4% of the vote and Ivan Holmes came in with only 7.4%.
In the Republican race for Governor, incumbent Mary Fallin easily won her party's nomination with 75.5% of the vote against two challengers. In a statement, she thanked her supporters as she looks to the fall, where she will face Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs.
“My thanks go out to all who participated in today’s Republican primary election, including the many volunteers who worked long hours on my campaign. I did not take this nomination for granted, and I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to once again be the GOP candidate for governor," she said. “Moving forward, my message to Oklahomans will be a simple one: in the last four years, we've worked successfully to create 80,000 new jobs; we've eliminated government waste and made our state agencies perform more efficiently; and we've stood up to President Obama and Washington politicians when they've tried to force bad policies on the people of Oklahoma."
ELECTION RESULTS (97% of precincts reporting)
U.S. SENATE UNEXPIRED TERM (DEMOCRAT)
• Sen. Connie Johnson – 43.6%
• Jim Rogers – 35.6%
• Patrick Michael Hayes – 20.9%
U.S. SENATE UNEXPIRED TERM (REPUBLICAN)
• U.S. Rep. James Lankford – 57.5%
• Former Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon – 34.3%
• Sen. Randy Brogdon – 4.7%
• Kevin Crow – 1.1%
• Andy Craig – 0.9%
• Eric C. McCray – 0.9%
• Jason Weger – 0.7%
U.S. SENATE REGULAR ELECTION (REPUBLICAN)
• U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe – 87.7%
• Evelyn Rogers 4.5%
• Erick Paul Wyatt – 4.5%
• Rob Moye – 1.8%
• D. Jean McBride-Samuels – 1.5%
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISTRICT 2 (DEMOCRAT)
• Earl E. Everett – 62.5%
• Joshua Harris-Till – 37.5%
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISTRICT 2 (REPUBLICAN)
• U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin – 79.7%
• Darrel Robertson – 20.3%
• Gov. Mary Fallin – 75.5%
• Chad Moody – 15.4%
• Dax Ewbank – 9.1%
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION (DEMOCRAT)
• John Cox – 41.2%
• Freda Deskin – 38%
• Jack C. Herron Jr. – 13.3%
• Ivan Holmes 7.4%
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION (REPUBLICAN)
• Joy Hofmeister – 57.3%
• Brian S. Kelly – 21.6%
• Superintendent Janet Barresi – 21.1%
INSURANCE COMMISSIONER (REPUBLICAN)
• Commissioner John Doak – 77.4%
• Bill Viner – 22.6%
• Todd Hiett – 52.1%
• Cliff Branan – 47.9%
STATE REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT 17 (REPUBLICAN)
• Micah Thompson – 59.2%
• Paul Marean – 40.8%
DISTRICT ATTORNEY DISTRICT 27 (REPUBLICAN)
• Brian Keuster – 74.9%
• Anne Mize – 25.1%