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Who's on the ballot in the June 18th primary election in Oklahoma

Ryan LaCroix/OPMX

Oklahomans will head to their polling places Tuesday to vote in primaries and decide local questions.

Oklahomans will head to their polling places Tuesday to vote in primaries and decide local questions.

Many state legislators are running unopposed for re-election. But several Republican incumbents face primary challengers from further right on the political spectrum.

A handful of state and county elections will be decided on Tuesday because all candidates are members of the same party.

Incumbent Oklahoma representatives face primary challenges for seats in the U.S. House

All five of Oklahoma’s Congressional Representatives are seeking reelection this year. Josh Brecheen and Stephanie Bice are unopposed for the Republican primaries but will face candidates from other parties in November’s general election. Tom Cole, Frank Lucas and Kevin Hern will all face competition in Tuesday’s primary.

Tom Cole up against new-to-Oklahoma millionaire Paul Bondar, others in District 4: 

Tom Cole has represented south-central Oklahoma in Congress since 2003. As he seeks a twelfth two-year term. He’s up against four other Republican candidates: Paul Bondar, Nick Hankins, Rick Harris and Andrew Hayes.

Of those four, Bondar — a millionaire who recently hails from Texas — seems to have the most momentum. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters endorsed him in a Facebook video earlier this month, and the other three challengers have curiously endorsed Bondar in one of his campaign ads.

As reported by KFOR, Bondar is registered to vote in Texas and voted there three months ago. He bought land in Durant, which is outside the district he seeks to represent, but still satisfies the state residency requirement for his campaign.

According to records obtained by The Oklahoman, Bondar also leases a condo in Florida from a Russian pop star closely associated with Vladimir Putin. Bondar’s campaign has criticized Cole for voting to fund aid for Ukraine in its war against Russia, saying that money should be used to close the U.S.-Mexico border instead.

Like Bondar, the other three Republican candidates tout themselves as farther right than Cole, who is noted for his bipartisan lawmaking despite his consistently conservative political positions.

Cole lives in Moore and currently serves as the Chair of the House Committee on Appropriations. The Chickasaw Nation citizen is the first Oklahoman and the first Native American to do so.

The winner of the primary will face either Kody Macaulay or Mary Brannon from the Democratic Party in the general election. Brannon challenged Cole in the 2018 general election for the seat.

Frank Lucas faces two right-wing challengers in District 3: 

Northwest Oklahomans will decide whether to elect Frank Lucas for a 16th term, extending a Congressional career that began in 1994. Lucas currently chairs the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, where his agenda has included upping investment in research institutions in the American heartland.

Lucas will face two contenders in Tuesday’s Republican primary: Robin Carder and Darren Hamilton. Both emphasize loyalty to Donald Trump, enthusiasm for the 2nd amendment and a desire to close the border between the U.S. and Mexico.

Only Republican candidates filed for this seat, so the winner of Tuesday’s primary will take the general election.

Kevin Hern faces off with Paul Royse in District 1: 

Incumbent Kevin Hern will face off with Paul Royse in Tuesday’s Republican primary. Hern is seeking a fourth term representing the Tulsa area.

Royse finished last in the contest for the Senate seat that became Markwayne Mullin’s in 2022, which featured 13 candidates.

In November’s general election, the winner will face Independent Mark Sanders and the winner of the Democratic primary — either Dennis Baker or Evelyn Rogers.

Legislative primaries

Oklahoma's Republican supermajority is likely safe. But these races are worth watching as the state legislature resets.

Senate District 46

Democratic Senate Leader Kay Floyd reached her term limit this year after winning the district in 2012.

The district includes much of the urban core of Oklahoma City and its southeastern suburbs, making it one of the most racially diverse districts in the state.

Two Democrats are vying to replace Floyd. Sam Wargin Grimaldo is a criminal defense attorney at Michael Brooks-Jimenez law firm in south Oklahoma City. That’s the private law practice of Sen. Michael Brooks, who represents Senate District 44 and actively supports Grimaldo’s campaign. Born and raised in Oklahoma City’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, Grimaldo is the second Latino to run for Senate District 46.

He’s facing off against Mark Mann, who served as vice-chair of the OKC School Board for seven years. Mann is heavily involved in the nonprofit and public education sectors. Both candidates are campaigning to keep public schools funded and ensure women's reproductive rights. Mann’s campaign also focuses on growing the state’s workforce, and Grimaldo aims to protect marginalized Oklahomans.

The winner will face Republican Charles Barton and Independent David Pilchman in the Nov. 5 general election.

Senate District 11

Kevin Matthews is term-limited after representing North Tulsa in the state Senate since 2015. Two experienced Tulsa progressives are on Tuesday’s Democratic primary ballot to fill his seat. The winner will represent one of Oklahoma’s two districts where Blackpeople outnumber all other racial groups.

Regina Goodwin has served the same area in the state House of Representatives since 2015. If elected, she’d be limited to a single four-year term. Joe Williams served on the Tulsa City Council for 20 years and is involved with several nonprofits and advocacy groups.

The Democratic primary on Tuesday will determine the general election, as no other candidates filed.

Senate District 17

Incumbent Shane Jett, R-Shawnee, is facing three challengers for the Republican nomination. Former Sen. Ron Sharp, Rachael Melot and Cody Swearingen are running for the seat.

Sharp, a former educator, is running to reclaim his seat in the district. In 2022, Epic Charter School and Sharp reached a $500,000 settlement in an anti-SLAPP case against the former senator.

Senate District 13

Current Senate Majority Floor Leader and future Senate Pro Tempore Greg McCortney, R-Ada, will face Johnathan Wingard of Ada in the Republican primary election. McCortney would have faced another challenger, Rob Crowley, but he withdrew from the race.

House District 88

Mauree Turner made history in 2020, becoming the first Muslim lawmaker in Oklahoma and the first openly nonbinary state legislator in the country. But, following threats and censure, Turner is not seeking re-election in November, citing their health and a need to focus on self-care. Three Democrats — Nicole Maldonado, Paula Sophia and Ellen Pogemiller — are running for the position and no Republicans are in the race. The candidates are focusing on issues covering everything from women's rights and public education to voting access.

House District 43

House District 43 covers a large part of Yukon and far western Oklahoma City. There, incumbent Jay Steagall is being challenged by former Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby in the Republican primary. In 2020, Selby accused Steagall of harrassing and trying to intimidate her over COVID mandates for restaurant and bar workers. Steagall has been a Representative since 2018. The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Independent candidate Cassie Kinet in November.

Senate District 47

Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat is term-limited this year and four people are running for the open seat in Senate District 47, which covers north Oklahoma City and Edmond. Kelly E. Hines, Aaron Curry and Jenny Schmitt are running for the Republican nomination for senate office on June 18. The winner will face Democrat Erin Brewer in November.

House District 22

House Speaker Charles McCall has also reached his term limit and two Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination. They include Troy Golden, Tishomingo’s city manager, and Ryan Eaves an Atoka business owner. No Democrats are in the race.

Other vacant seats

Senate District 21’s Tom Dugger is not seeking reelection, and three Republicans are jostling for the chance to represent Stillwater and the surrounding area. One is Dr. Randy Grellner, an ultra-conservative physician who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s seat in 2022. He’s running against farmer & rancher Kurt Murray and James Winn, whose campaign promotes healthy foods in schools, criminal justice reform and open records. The winner will face Democrat Robin Fuxa.

House District 20, which covers parts of Cleveland, McClain and Garvin Counties, is currently up for grabs, as Rep. Sherrie Conley declined to seek reelection. During her time in office, she compared school librarians to cockroaches and made out with a cushy deal from selling her home the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. Five Republican candidates will be on Tuesday’s ballot; the winner will face Democrat Mitchell Jacob in November.

The primary battle for Sen. Rob Standridge’s former seat is even more heated. Six Republicans — including Standridge's wife Lisa and former Norman city councilmember Kelly Lynn — seek to represent Senate District 15, which encircles most of Norman. Elizabeth Foreman, whose campaign opposes the proposed turnpike through eastern Cleveland County, clinched the Democratic nomination without opposition.

As in all races in Oklahoma, if no candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, the top two candidates will advance to a runoff primary election on Aug. 27.

Handful of incumbents challenged from the right

Candidates are challenging incumbents in other legislative seats covering House and Senate districts from the panhandle to southern Oklahoma.

Hailing from the westernmost tip of the panhandle, Sen. Casey Murdock has represented Senate District 27 since 2018. He’s seeking reelection but faces a challenger from within his own party: pastor, rancher and former local school board member Cody Anderson. the challenger's campaign website promotes states’ rights, school choice, and an end to the “radical LGBTQ agenda,” among other ultra-conservative principles.

Jessica Garvin is seeking re-election after her second term serving Senate District 23 in south-central Oklahoma. Kendal Sacchieri, who currently serves as the McClain County Assessor, is running to unseat her.

Garvin’s constituency largely overlaps with House District 42, where incumbent Rep. Cynthia Roe, a nurse practitioner from Lindsay, faces “hardworking, MAGA patriot” Matt Huggans.

Candidates vie to replace term-limited Corporation Commissioner

Bob Anthony was first elected to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in 1988. According to NonDoc, that makes him the longest-serving statewide elected official in Oklahoma and the longest-serving utilities commissioner in the country.

After six six-year terms in office, Anthony can’t seek another term. Republicans will vote on whether to send Brian Bingman, Justin Hornback or Russell Ray to the general election, where the winner will face Democrat Harold Spradling and Libertarian Chad Williams.

The other two seats on the Corporation Commission aren’t up for election this year.

Controversy-embroiled sheriffs seek re-election in Southeast Oklahoma

Across the state, Oklahomans will vote for the chief law enforcement officer in their counties. In Southeast Oklahoma, two of these elections come on the heels of scandals involving the incumbent sheriffs.

Pittsburg County Sheriff

Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris faces challenger Randy Hass in this week’s primary.

He’s also facing embezzlement and bribery charges after allegedly falsifying records as part of a scheme to sell a $29,000 utility vehicle he owned to the county so he could receive a new Can-Am for himself. He’s also accused of negotiating free repairs on his personal utility vehicle in exchange for up-charged repairs on two county vehicles.

Morris, who was first elected as Pittsburg County sheriff in 2016, was suspended earlier this month by the Pittsburg County Board of Commissioners, but he’s on the ballot for Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Hass is running to unseat Morris. According to his campaign website, he has 10 years of law enforcement experience and holds an associate’s degree in criminal justice.

Hass said he plans to address health and drug issues by forming a dedicated team that would collaborate with various state agencies. Hass also plans to implement a drug diversion program within the jail to provide rehabilitation opportunities.

The winner will be elected sheriff as there is no opponent in the November general election.

McCurtain County Sheriff

Incumbent Kevin Clardy, who faced national scrutiny last year after making racist and violent statements, will face off against two challengers in the GOP Primary for McCurtain County Sheriff: Bruce W. Shirey and Jason Ricketts.

Last year, Clardy and three other county officials were recorded at a meeting discussing lynching Black people and killing journalists. Following the release of the audio, Gov. Kevin Stitt called for an investigation into complaints of misconduct by Clardy. In June 2023, Attorney General Gentner Drummond said his office and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation had found no legal grounds to dismiss Clardy from his position as sheriff.

Republicans Bruce W. Shirey and Jason Ricketts are running to unseat Clardy. Both candidates have minimal online presence and did not respond to requests for more information about their campaigns.

The Republican winner will face Democrat Steve McKee in the general election on Nov. 5.

Residents consider extending or implementing local taxes

Edmond voters will decide whether to increase their lodging tax rate from 4 percent to 6 percent. The increase is expected to generate an additional $500,000 per year for tourism marketing and attracting conferences and sporting events. Officials say Edmond has 13 hotels, one bed and breakfast, and more than 150 vacation homes. Edmond residents would not pay the tax unless they spent the night in one of those places.

Henryetta residents will vote on whether to extend an existing one-cent sales tax. The tax brings in approximately $75,000 per month and pays for the city's general operations, including street pavement and water and sewer maintenance. Officials call the extension "essential" to continue operating the city at its current levels.

Broken Bow voters will decide whether to install a capital improvement sales tax. If approved, the penny sales tax would fund improvements to the city's water treatment plant, sewer lines and new sanitation trucks. Officials say that if the tax is not approved, they will likely have to raise utility rates to fund those infrastructure repairs and upgrades.

Voters in Alfalfa County will decide whether to renew its two-percent sales tax, which largely funds the county's emergency services. Additional funds go to general operations and county roads and bridges. If approved, the increase would be in place for four years. Officials say the revenue from that tax is essential to keep county services operating.

Voters can learn more about this election by visiting their local election board or by seeing a sample ballot on their voter portal on the State Election Board website.

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Lionel Ramos covers state government for a consortium of Oklahoma’s public radio stations. He is a graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos with a degree in English. He has covered race and equity, unemployment, housing, and veterans' issues.
Robby grew up in Ardmore, Oklahoma and Fayetteville, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Nebraska with a Journalism degree. Robby has reported for several newspapers, including The Roanoke Times in southwest Virginia. He reported for StateImpact Oklahoma from 2019 through 2022, focusing on education.
Ryan LaCroix joined KOSU’s staff in 2013. He hosts All Things Considered, Oklahoma Rock Show, Oklahoma Rock Show: Rewind, and Oklahoma Music Minute.
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