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Oklahoma Watch

"I Voted" stickers are seen at Oklahoma County Election Commission offices.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

If there is one thing clear about Tuesday’s primary runoff election, it’s that voters and observers are in for a record level of suspense.

Kevin Stitt, candidate for the Republican nomination for Oklahoma Governor, speaks in Guthrie, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.
Sue Ogrocki / AP Photo

Newly obtained documents from Wisconsin regulators show gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt personally signed background-check documents for Gateway Mortgage Group in 2008 that did not disclose previous regulatory actions against his company in three other states.

Students at John Rex Charter Middle School in Oklahoma City – sixth graders Finley Cunningham, top left, Direon Kelley, bottom left, Charlie Marshall and Taylor Ellis – sit on cushions in the hallway during a break from schoolwork.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

There are 75 middle-school students in the long, sunlit room, sitting four to a table.

They work quietly and independently on laptops, most wearing headphones. Some fidget, their chairs rocking with them.

Kevin Stitt is shown speaking at a forum hosted by Edmond Republican Women on May 21.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Stitt’s mortgage company did not tell Wisconsin officials about its run-ins with other states’ regulators when it applied for a mortgage banking license a decade ago, according to documents obtained by Oklahoma Watch.

Only four of 28 candidates for statewide elected office in Oklahoma have voluntarily released specific details about their personal finances similar to what is typically disclosed by federal candidates and state-level candidates in other states.

Marijuana leaf
Wikimedia Commons

For Oklahoma inmates, the state’s legalization of medical marijuana will not translate into access in the state prison system.

Master teacher Carolyn Wood applies glue to an art project with student Brendan Compton, 4, at Children’s Discovery Center in Norman on July 24. The childcare facility, which takes children up to 5 years old, is currently full with a waitlist of families.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The unexpected closure of a well-regarded, highly rated child care center in Oklahoma City has put parents in an all-too-familiar, tough spot: scrambling to find places for their children amid a drop in the number of daycares.

A tank filled with liquid nitrogen is seen outside of an Oklahoma City business that sells nitrogen for various commercial uses.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The condemned man enters the room where he will draw his last breath.

He will be restrained in some way, perhaps strapped to the T-shaped platform where other offenders have been executed by injection.

With Low Turnout, Should Oklahoma Kill The Primary Runoff?

Jul 18, 2018
A polling station at Oklahoma County Election Commission offices.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

August will be a pivotal month for Oklahoma politics, with likely a record number of candidates facing off in runoff primary elections.

Crescent Public Schools Superintendent Bart Watkins said while his district spend a relatively high percentage of its funding on instruction, it has been forced to make cuts, including in number of positions.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Amid an intensifying drumbeat of political promises to propel schools to spend more of their dollars in the classroom, Crescent Public Schools stands out.

Candidates lined up at the State Capitol on April 11 to file to run for office.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

When Oklahomans return to the polls to select the state’s next governor and a host of statewide and legislative officers, they will be making their choices without potentially decisive information.

Voters cast ballots at the Oklahoma County Election Board Thursday, the first day of voting for the June 26 elections. The slate includes primary races for statewide offices and legislative seats, as well as State Question 788 on medical marijuana.
Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

Voters began casting early ballots Thursday, beginning the process to select a new governor, fill most statewide offices and legislative seats, and decide the controversial ballot question on medical marijuana.

Kevin Stitt, candidate for the Republican nomination for Oklahoma Governor, speaks in Guthrie, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Republican businessman Kevin Stitt, who has pitched his gubernatorial campaign on his outsider status, has voted in just eight elections since 2000, according to Oklahoma voter history records.

None of those elections included the race for governor.

Stitt, who founded a Tulsa-based mortgage company, is among the frontrunners in the GOP primary, along with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and Mick Cornett, a former Oklahoma City mayor. The crowded Republican field attracted 10 candidates, including Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.

John Minchillo / AP Images

Out-of-state interests are increasingly spending money and spending it earlier in attempt to influence Oklahoma’s congressional races.

Recently released campaign finance records show nearly half of all money raised so far among the 39 candidates running for one of the state’s five U.S. House seats has come from out of state.

The Oklahoma Judicial Center houses the state Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on a pair of lawsuits to stop an effort to repeal tax increases that helped pay for the historic teacher pay package.

At stake is whether Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!, a group led by former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, can continue collecting signatures to ask voters to nullify the nearly $450 million revenue-raising bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

Josh Edelson / AP Images

Patients in Oklahoma will pay one of the highest tax rates for medical marijuana among the 30 states that currently offer it if State Question 788 is approved by voters this month, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis.

File Photo / AP Images

The oil and gas industry is playing an early major role in deploying financial resources to try to influence the outcome of the Oklahoma governor’s race.

As the debate persists over how much the state should tax oil and gas production, an Oklahoma Watch review of campaign finance reports found oil and gas interest groups and executives have spent heavily in the early months of this year’s gubernatorial campaign. Fifteen candidates are running for the office.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

It was 6 a.m. Las Vegas time when Keli Tointigh awoke to her cell phone ringing.

The Chickasha resident was on vacation with her husband, John Tointigh, when an Oklahoma Department of Human Services employee asked if the couple would be willing to take in the children of one of Keli Tointigh’s cousins. The Tointighs had never applied to be foster parents.

“She said, ‘Can you call me back today and let me know?’” Keli recalls. “I was like, ‘Today?’”

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

For Oklahomans accused of low-level crimes like possessing small amounts of drugs or public intoxication, getting out of jail free while the case is pending often depends less on the nature of the charge than on what county they are arrested in.

Court data shows that counties have widely varying rates of pretrial release of misdemeanor defendants without requiring cash bail.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Just 35 women filed for one of the 125 Oklahoma legislative seats that were up for election in 2012.

This year, there will be nearly four times as many women running for the same number of seats. And following a trend across the nation, women will be better represented on the ballot than in at least a decade – and likely ever.

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