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AM NewsBrief: June 19, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, June 19th, 2024.

Voters in all 77 counties went to the polls Tuesday to consider a wide array of candidates and issues.

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

Some of the notable results are below. Full results are available via the state Department of Elections website.

Legislative primaries

Oklahoma's Republican supermajority remains, though there were some surprises.

Shakeup in the Senate

Several Republican senators faced primary opposition from the right. And in a few cases, they were toppled.

Current Senate Majority Floor Leader and would-be Senate Pro Tempore Greg McCortney, R-Ada, lost his primary race to Jonathan Wingard in the Republican primary election by 262 votes.

McCortney had been tapped by his fellow Republicans to lead the Senate starting next year, as current Pro Tem Greg Treat was term-limited. Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, and Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt, were also seeking that post.

Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Marlow, also lost her GOP primary contest. She fell to Kendal Sacchieri, the McClain County Assessor, who boasted endorsements from the National Rifle Association and the anti-vaccination group Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights. Sacchieri will have to defeat Democrat Sam Graefe in November.

Sen. Cody Rogers, R-Tulsa, lost to challenger and commercial insurance agent Aaron Reinhardt by just 84 votes in Senate District 37 in Tulsa County. Reinhardt will face Independent Andrew Nutter in November.

Senate District 17 rematch

Incumbent Shane Jett, R-Shawnee, will face off against the man he unseated in a 2020 primary, former Sen. Ron Sharp. Those two claimed the top two spots in a four-way GOP race.

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

House budget leader will go to runoff

Wellston Republican Kevin Wallace is headed to an August runoff in the Republican primary with opponent Jim Shaw. Wallace, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, came in second place in a three-way race.

The races for former legislative leaders’ seats

Pro Tem Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall will both be exiting the legislature.

McCall will be replaced by Republican Ryan Eaves, an Atoka business owner. Eaves defeated his primary opponent and Tishomingo’s city manager, Troy Golden. He will be seated in the legislature as he has no opponents for the general election.

The race to replace Treat is a little more complicated. Republicans Kelly Hines and Jenny Schmitt will face off in an August runoff after finishing in the top two of a three-way race. The winner will face Democrat Erin Brewer in November.

Democratic primary results

Democratic Senate Leader Kay Floyd has reached her term limit this year after first winning the district in 2012. The solidly blue district includes much of Oklahoma City’s urban core and its southeastern suburbs, making it one of the state’s most racially diverse districts.

Mark Mann served as vice chair of the OKC School Board for seven years and is heavily involved in the nonprofit and public education sectors. He defeated criminal defense attorney Sam Wargin Grimaldo by 165 votes.

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

In Tulsa, Rep. Regina Goodwin will now serve as a senator, replacing term-limited Kevin Matthews. She defeated former Tulsa City Councilman Joe Williams. She does not have an opponent in the general election.

In Oklahoma City’s House District 88, Mauree Turner is not seeking re-election in November, citing their health and a need to focus on self-care. They had endorsed their legislative assistant Nicole Maldonado. However, Ellen Pogemiller was ultimately victorious in the three-way Democratic primary, capturing nearly 54 percent of the votes. She will be seated as no Republicans are in the race.

In Senate District 48, Oklahoma City councilwoman Nikki Nice will be seated as a new Senator, after defeating Connie Johnson in the Democratic primary with nearly 73 percent of the vote.

More results

· Stillwater Republican Rep. John Talley lost to retired educator Molly Jenkins of Coyle in the Republican primary. Jenkins will be seated as there is no general election opponent.

· Sen. Casey Murdock, who has represented the westernmost part of Oklahoma's panhandle in Senate District 27 since 2018, fended off pastor and rancher Cody Anderson by 310 votes. Murdock will remain in the Senate, with no general election challenger.

· Rep. Cynthia Roe of Lindsay emerged victorious in a three-way race in House District 42. She will be reseated, without drawing a challenger in November.

· The race to replace Republican Sen. Rob Standridge in Norman's District 15 is heading to a runoff on the Republican side. Lisa Standridge is looking to replace her husband in the seat, but will face Robert C. Keyes in August. The winner will face Democrat Elizabeth Foreman in the general election.

· In House District 20, which covers parts of Cleveland, McClain and Garvin Counties, two Republican candidates are headed to a runoff. Mike Whaley and Jonathan Wilk were separated by just five votes on Tuesday, but neither captured 50 percent of the vote in the five-way race. The runoff winner will face Democrat Mitchell Jacob in November.

· With nearly 80 percent of the vote, Dr. Randy Grellner ran away with the Republican primary in Senate District 21, which spans Stillwater and the surrounding area. He will face Democrat Robin Fuxa in November.

· Rep. Jay Steagall easily defeated former Yukon Mayor Shelli Selby in the House District 43 Republican primary, with nearly 68 percent of the vote. He will face Independent candidate Cassie Kinet in November.

Incumbents prevail easily in U.S. House races

All five of Oklahoma’s incumbent Republican U.S. House representatives are headed to the November ballot after Tuesday’s primary.

Josh Brecheen and Stephanie Bice ran unopposed in their primaries but will face candidates from other parties in November.

The most high-profile race was between 12-term Congressman Tom Cole, and challengers Paul Bondar, Nick Hankins, Rick Harris and Andrew Hayes. But Cole took it with more than 60 percent of the vote. He’ll face Democrat Mary Brannon in the fall.

Of his four opponents, Bondar — a millionaire who recently hails from Texas — had the most momentum. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters endorsed him in a Facebook video earlier this month.

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.

Frank Lucas easily beat his farther-right challengers on Tuesday, and with no opponents in the general election, he can be sure of another term. Kevin Hern also won Tuesday's primary in his eastern Oklahoma district but will have to fend off Democratic and Independent challengers in November.

Bingman wins GOP nod for Corporation Commission

Former Secretary of State Brian Bingman won the GOP primary election for Corporation Commissioner against Justin Hornback and Russell Ray.

Bingman is a University of Oklahoma alum and holds a bachelor’s of business administration in petroleum land management. For more than 40 years, Bingman worked in the private sector, managing properties for oil and gas companies in Tulsa. He has also served in the Oklahoma House and Senate.

Bingman will face Democrat Harold Spradling and Libertarian Chad Willilams in November. The winner will replace Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony, who has served for 35 years.

Controversial sheriffs get mixed results in GOP primaries

Across the state, Oklahomans voted for the chief law enforcement officer in their counties. In Southeast Oklahoma, two of these elections followed scandals involving the incumbent sheriffs.

Pittsburg County

In Pittsburg County, incumbent Chris Morris beat challenger Randy Hass in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Morris, who was first elected as Pittsburg County sheriff in 2016, was suspended earlier this month by the Pittsburg County Board of Commissioners.

Morris is facing felony 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 does not face an opponent in the November general election, but he still faces a removal trial in July.

McCurtain County

The McCurtain County GOP primary for sheriff ended with no candidate receiving enough votes to win outright, leading to a runoff election between Bruce W. Shirey and Jason Ricketts on Aug. 27.

Shire and Ricketts have minimal online presence and did not respond to requests for more information about their campaigns. Incumbent Kevin Clardy received less than 400 votes in the election. Last year, Clardy and three other county officials were recorded at a meeting discussing lynching Black people and killing journalists.

The runoff winner between Shirey and Ricketts will face Democrat Steve McKee in the general election on Nov. 5.

Residents give green light to local taxes

Edmond voters approved an increase in the 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.

Henryetta residents extended 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 residents voted yes on a capital improvement sales tax. The penny sales tax will fund improvements to the city's water treatment plant, sewer lines and new sanitation trucks.

Voters in Alfalfa County renewed a two-percent sales tax, which largely funds the county's emergency services. Additional funds go to general operations and county roads and bridges. The increase will be in place for four years. Officials say the revenue from the tax is essential to keep county services operating.

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