Primary Elections Decide Some Nominations, Others Face Runoff in August

by Elizabeth Pitts-Hibbard

Oklahomans went to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the state primary election, sending several races to an August 23 runoff and deciding who will continue to the November general election in others. The Oklahoma State Election Board released unofficial results on Tuesday night; the percentages do not include provisional ballots.

Local legislative races have been finalized, however, with District 51 Representative Brad Boles continuing his seat after filing unopposed in April and District 50 Representative Marcus McEntire winning the primary with 61% of the vote. With no Democrat in the race, McEntire will retain his seat for another two-year term.

Speaking at a watch party on Tuesday, McEntire said that he had expected a difficult primary campaign against opponents Jennifer Sengstock and Deborah Campbell.

“My opponents were very motivated and worked very hard,” McEntire said. “I had a short span of time to get it done, but we ended up being victorious and we’re super grateful to the voters in this district.”

McEntire added that his experience and transparency helped with his re-election.

“I think I communicate with my constituents really well,” McEntire said. “I think they’re rewarding me for my transparency and the way I maneuver through the capitol. I build a lot of relationships up in Oklahoma City and I can help them get things done. I think I was built for this job and I love it.”

The other local election, that of District Judge, will go to a runoff between Neil West and Jay Walker because neither candidate grabbed 51% of the votes. Walker garnered 32.70% and West, 32.61%.

Statewide primaries were a mixed bag as well, with some decisive victories and others that will be decided in August.

In the race for Governor, Republican incumbent Governor Kevin Stitt handily defeated his opponents with 69% of the votes. On the Democratic side, outgoing State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister won the nomination over former lawmaker Connie Johnson.

Congressman Markwayne Mullin and former Oklahoma House speaker TW Shannon will meet on the ballot again in August for the unexpired US Senate term that will open at the end of the year when sitting Senator Jim Inhofe retires. The wide field for the office – 13 candidates were on the ballot – all but guaranteed a runoff. Mullin racked up just under 44%, not enough to proceed to the general election.

Incumbent Senator James Lankford, however, took a commanding 67% lead over Jackson Lahmeyer and Joan Farr in the other Senate race. Lankford’s democratic opponent is yet to be decided, with Madison Horn (37%) and Jason Bollinger (17%) facing a runoff.

Republican Tom Cole earned the nomination for US Representative for District 4 on Tuesday with nearly 70% of the vote.

Genter Drummond upset John O’Connor in a tight race for the republican nomination for Attorney General; Drummond garnered 50.88% of the vote over incumbent O’Connor’s 49.12%. Drummond will meet Libertarian candidate Lynda Steele in November.

The office of State Superintendent will also see a runoff for the republican nomination in August; embattled State Secretary of Education Ryan Walters and Shawnee Superintendent April Grace will be on the ballot.

State Auditor Cindy Byrd will retain her office after winning the republican primary over challenger Steven McQuillen. Byrd received double the votes and since no other party has a nominee, Byrd will keep the seat for another four-year term.

Representative Todd Russ, who is term-limited, and former Tax Commission Chairman Clark Jolley face a runoff as well.

Incumbent Leslie Osborn will defend her seat as Labor Commissioner in August’s runoff against State Representative Sean Roberts. Osborn received 48% of the vote to Roberts’ 38%.