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Capitol Insider: Nearly All Republican Statewide Candidates Face Runoffs

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
Arvelene Farmer, right, hands her grandson Jaylan Farmer, left, her ballot, so that he can place it into the voting machine, at the Oklahoma County Board of Elections, Thursday, June 21, 2018, in Oklahoma City.


On this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley assess the results of Oklahoma’s June 26, 2018 primary election.

Voters approved State Question 788, which will legalize medical marijuana, by 58 percent. And approximately 25,000 more people cast votes for 788 than did for the governor’s race.

Kevin Stitt and Mick Cornett will face off in a runoff election, as will Republican candidates in five other statewide races. Overall, six out of Oklahoma’s seven statewide races will appear on the August 28 runoff ballot.


Dick Pryor: Shawn, several big stories have come out of Tuesday's Oklahoma primary election. One was the passage of State Question 788, which will legalize medicinal marijuana beginning in just about 60 days.


Shawn Ashley: Yes, voters turned out and overwhelmingly supported state question 798 which legalizes medical marijuana in Oklahoma. The results push toward a 58 percent approval rate. It did well in the urban areas, but did not do so well in the rural areas.


Pryor: Urban and Eastern Oklahoma supported it strongly. More than 875,000 people voted on the state question which was actually about 25,000 more than voted in the gubernatorial race.


Ashley: That's right. And that's a rather interesting number. Of course, you probably had some people who went to the polling place just to vote on State Question 788. In other instances you may have had people who were unable to decide among the gubernatorial candidates and chose not to vote in that race.


Pryor: As expected, Drew Edmondson won the Democratic nomination for governor with an easy win over former state Sen. Connie Johnson. But, on the Republican side, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett got 29 percent of the vote and he's in a runoff with political newcomer Kevin Stitt of Tulsa, who got 24 percent of the vote. Interestingly, Todd Lamb, the lieutenant governor, missed the runoff.


Ashley: A couple of years ago he would have been the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination. But for the first time in the history of the state the lieutenant governor ran for higher office and didn't even get his party's nomination.


Pryor: Kevin Stitt can self-finance, but Todd Lamb was well financed. He had a lot of money.


Ashley: He had a lot of money. He had a number of years in the state legislature, and then he parlayed that into the lieutenant governor's office, giving him an opportunity to make a lot of contacts and to raise a lot of money, both inside the state and outside the state to fund that campaign. But he was not able to connect with enough voters and finished third.


Pryor: With only about 23 percent of the vote...


Ashley: Yes with less than 25 percent.


It was a rough night overall for incumbents: statewide incumbents and also legislative incumbents.


...Particularly, again on the Republican side. Except for the state insurance commissioner race among Republicans, all of the statewide elected races are going to a runoff: Attorney General, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Labor, Corporation Commission. And we also saw in the state legislature where a number of lawmakers had primary challenges. We saw five House incumbents lose and one Senate incumbent lose, and then seven more House Republicans are now headed to runoffs with intraparty challengers.


Pryor: So it will be interesting come August 28th-- that's when the primary runoff will be held.


Ashley: And it will be a big ballot, particularly again on the Republican side, with all these statewide races, as well as the individual legislative races that will be at play.


Pryor: Turnout was expected to be high, and it was. We mentioned 875,000 people voted on the medicinal marijuana question. In my own precinct in Norman the wait to vote was as much as 75 minutes.


Ashley: When I voted Tuesday morning it was a constant flow of people. At that point there was no wait, but as quickly as one person was handed a ballot, another person came in and got their ballot and began to vote. For weeks we will be looking at this race and trying to figure out exactly what it was. Was it the state question itself that brought people to the polls? Or was it that people were unhappy with their state representatives and their other elected officials? Judging from these numbers it was all of the above.


Pryor: And Shawn, Tuesday's results are unofficial until certified. They could be certified as early as Friday, that is if no one asks for a recount.


Ashley: Yes. Between now and Friday individual candidates may seek a recount if they feel like their election was too close or that there were some irregularities. In at least one of the House races, for example, that involving Representative Kevin McDougal, that is only a 4 vote difference between he and the challenger who he defeated. If the challenger decides that that's worth going for a recount that one could be put on hold for a few days.


Pryor: It was a fascinating election day.


Ashley: Oh it was incredibly fun to watch.



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Caroline produced Capitol Insider and did general assignment reporting from 2018 to 2019. She joined KGOU after a stint at Marfa Public Radio, where she covered a wide range of local and regional issues in far west Texas. Previously, she reported on state politics for KTOO Public Media in Alaska and various outlets in Washington State.
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