2022 Elections Attract Candidates
The U.S. Congress is composed of two chambers. Senators serve six-year terms with only a third of the seats up each election year. Each state has two seats in that upper chamber. One of Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senate seats is up for election in 2022. Senator Jim Inhofe was reelected in 2020 and his term will not expire until after the 2026 election. But, Senator James Lankford was reelected in 2016 and his term expires after the 2022 election. All five Oklahoma seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up each election year since they serve two-year terms. All of the incumbents are running for reelection.
U.S. Senator James Lankford was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 to fill the unexpired term of Tom Coburn who left the seat early due to health reasons. Lankford was easily reelected in 2016 to a full term. Before his election to the Senate, he was elected to the fifth district seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 and was reelected in 2012.
Three fellow Republicans are challenging Lankford for the GOP nomination. Jackson Lahmeyer, 29, of Tulsa was the first to announce a run against Lankford. Lahmeyer is pastor of the Sheridan Christian Center, and the owner of Lahmeyer Investment Company. Lahmeyer has obtained the endorsement of the Republican Party’s state chairman, John Bennett, and former Trump National Security Advisor, retired General Michael Flynn.
State Senator Nathan Dahm, 38, of Broken Arrow, has been a strong conservative voice in the Oklahoma Senate. He has a cumulative average of 99% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index published by the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper. He previously ran for the First District seat in Congress prior to his election to the Oklahoma Senate in 2012, and ran again in 2018. He was reelected to the state Senate in 2020 and is term-limited and will not be able to run again in 2024.
A third Republican challenger has also announced intentions to run. Joan Farr, 65, of Tulsa is a pre-litigation consultant and legal reform activist. She ran for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jim Inhofe as an independent in 2014 and 2020. But, this time she is running as a Republican. In the 2020 General Election she received only 1.39% of the vote against Inhofe.
Three Democrats have also announced their intentions to run. Oklahoma voters have not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1990, when David Boren was elected to a third term. Oklahoma City attorney Jason Bollinger, 29, received accounting and law degrees at the University of Oklahoma. He worked for the U.S. State Department in Washington in 2017 and 2018 before beginning his law practice in Oklahoma City.
Bevon Rogers, 32, of Hugo is a technical writer and is also running for the Democrat nomination. He ran for a seat in the Oklahoma Senate in 2020 and lost in the Democrat primary election. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
At the end of October, a third Democrat joined the race for U.S. Senate. Madison Horn says she was “called to fight against the political agendas that are weakening our democracy, with self-interest and putting politics ahead of what's best for our country.” For the last decade she has worked for various firms involving Cyber and Digital Security.
For a more detailed look at the U.S. Senate race, see the article: “2022 Elections Generating Interest,” elsewhere in this edition.
U.S. House – First District
First District (Tulsa area) incumbent Republican Kevin Hern, 59, was first elected to the seat in 2018, and was reelected in 2020. He is the owner of KTAK Coorporation which owns and operates ten McDonald’s restaurants which employs over 400 people in the Tulsa area. Hern was reelected in 2020 with 63.70% of the vote.
No Republican has announced a challenge to Hern, but two Democrats have announced for the race. Adam Martin graduated from Oklahoma State University last year. John Swoboda is a Job Corps instructor, artist, and political activist.
U.S. House – Second District
The Second District covers much of eastern Oklahoma, stretching south from the Kansas state line to the Red River border with Texas. Markwayne Mullin, 44, is running for a another term. Mullin owns Mullin Plumbing which spans much of the state. He also has ranching operations in Adair and Wagoner counties. He was first elected in 2012, and is running for a sixth term. He was reelected in 2020 with 75.04% of the vote. No challengers have announced for the seat.
U.S. House – Third District
The third district covers most of the north central and northwestern parts of the state, including the panhandle. Long-time Congressman Frank Lucas, 61, of Cheyenne was first elected in a Special Election in 1994. He is the longest serving member among the current Oklahoma Delegation in the U.S. House, and is running for reelection. He is a former State Representative and runs a ranching operation. Lucas received accolades from many conservative Republicans when he was the lone member of the House of Representatives from Oklahoma to vote against the big bank bailout in 2008.
He was reelected in 2020 with 78.49% of the vote. No challengers have announced for the seat.
U.S. House – Fourth District
The Fourth District covers much of south central and southwestern parts of the state. Congressman Tom Cole, 72, is running for reelection. Cole was first elected to Congress in 2002. While serving in the state Senate back in the 1989-90 time period Cole compiled an 80% Oklahoma Conservative Index score, placing him in the Top Conservatives list. However, his record in Congress has been less conservative although he did score 100 percent in the latest ratings compiled by The New American magazine. He was reelected in 2020 with 67.79% of the vote. No challengers have announced for the seat.
U.S. House – Fifth District
The 5th District currently includes most of Oklahoma County, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties. But, there could be changes to the district boundaries when the Oklahoma Legislature completes the redistricting process in November. The big news coming out of the 2018 Oklahoma congressional elections was the flipping of the Fifth District seat from Republican to Democrat when Kendra Horn defeated the incumbent, Steve Russell. Oklahoma had not had a Democrat in Congress since 2012. And, for the first time in state history Oklahoma had a Democrat woman to Congress.
Nine Republicans were competing in 2020 to return the seat to the GOP and State Sen. Stephanie Bice of Edmond secured the Republican nomination and went on to defeat Congresswoman Horn. Bice was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2014 and reelected in 2018, Although Bice was a moderate Republican, earning a 56% cumulative average on the Oklahoma Conservative Index for the six years that she has been in office, she has been far more conservative than the liberal Congresswoman Horn. Bice, 48, won the seat in 2020 with 52.06% of the vote, and plans to seek reelection in 2022.
Democrats have their sights on recapturing the seat. Abby Broyles, 32, of Oklahoma City is running for the Democrat nomination. She was the Democrat nominee in 2020 for the U.S. Senate seat held by incumbent Senator Jim Inhofe. In the General Election she received 32.75% of the vote against Inhofe. Broyles began working as a TV news reporter at age 20, and spent the majority of her TV career at KFOR, the NBC affiliate in Oklahoma City. She later completed law school, passed the bar, and opened her own law practice.
In non-presidential election years, a host of state offices are up for election. In 2022 this list includes the offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Auditor and Inspector, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Labor Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner, and one of the seats on the Corporation Commission. The Republican candidate won all of these statewide races in 2010, 2014, and 2018.
Governor Kevin Stitt was a surprise winner of the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018, and an easy winner of the general election (no Democrat has won the governorship since Brad Henry was reelected in 2006). In 2018, Kevin Stitt ran as a businessman and a political outsider. Stitt received an accounting degree from Oklahoma State University in 1996 and after graduation worked in the mortgage loan industry. He started Gateway Mortgage Group in 2000 “with only $1,000 and a computer.” Gateway grew into an enterprise employing over 1,100 people, and had 145 offices in 40 states. In the 2018 General Election, Stitt won the governorship with 54.33 percent of the vote.
Thus far, Governor Stitt, 48, has only one challenger for the Republican nomination. Dr. Mark Sherwood is a certified Naturopathic Doctor and he and his wife Michele, a Doctor of Osteopathy, founded the Functional Medical Institute, a wellness-based medical practice in Tulsa. The Sherwoods have authored three best-selling books on diet and health. He previously served 24 years in the Tulsa Police Department, including service on the department’s SWAT Team. He is a former Oklahoma state and regional bodybuilding champion, and an ex-professional baseball player. Sherwood says our children are being taught to hate people based on their race in publicly funded schools, hospitals are enforcing medical protocols that are killing people, and legal abortion is claiming thousands of lives each year in Oklahoma.
The first Democrat to announce for the race was former state Senator Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City. Johnson, 69, was the Democrat nominee against Senator Lankford when he ran for a full-term in 2014. She received 29% of the vote in that race. Johnson was among the most liberal members of the state Senate with a cumulative average of just 12% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. She ran for governor in 2018, and lost the Democrat nomination to former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson who went on to be defeated by Stitt in the General Election. She is opposed to the death penalty and has a solid pro-abortion voting record. She was one of the leaders of a failed effort to get an initiative petition on the ballot to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Oklahoma.
In October, State School Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, 57, announced that she had changed her registration to Democrat and would seek the Democratic Party nomination for governor. In 2014, Hofmeister was elected state school superintendent as a Republican, and was reelected in 2018. In 2014, the incumbent Republican state school superintendent, Janet Barresi, had supported Common Core’s implementation in Oklahoma’s public schools for months (until switching very late in her reelection campaign to opposition when activist Republicans strongly opposed it). At the time, Hofmeister told the editor of the Oklahoma Constitution that she opposed Common Core, and that she was a conservative Republican. Despite such assurances, Hofmeister has been more in the camp of the liberal school lobby than she was ever in the camp of Republicans, opposing Governor Stitt’s opposition to mask mandates in the schools, for example.
The Oklahoma Libertarian Party also has an announced candidate for governor. Natalie Bruno, 35, has been a digital marketer and advertiser in Oklahoma for several years working for companies like Cox Media, Tyler Media, Gatehouse Media, the Oklahoman, and is currently the Director of Digital Strategy at Skyline Media Group. She was the Marketing Director for the Jo Jorgensen and Spike Cohen Presidential/Vice-Presidential campaign in 2020.
Two independent candidates have also announced for the race. Former state Senator Ervin Yen, 67, of Oklahoma City announced last year that he was going to challenge Gov. Stitt for the GOP nomination. But, in October he announced that he had changed his registration from Republican to Independent and will continue his gubernatorial race. He was a registered as a Democrat before changing to Republican prior to his run for the state senate. Yen was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2014 and served one term before being defeated for reelection in 2018. He was the first Asian American to serve in that body, and also the most liberal Republican to serve in the Senate with a cumulative average of just 24% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. Dr. Yen, an anesthesiologist, has been critical of Governor Stitt’s handling of the COVID pandemic and called for a statewide mask mandate. While serving in the Senate, he pushed for the elimination of religious and personal exemptions for the vaccination of children.
Paul Tay, 58, of Tulsa also announced that he was running for governor as an independent. Tay has previously run for various offices in Tulsa including the Tulsa City Council and mayor. Last year Tay filed an initiative petition to place a State Question on the Oklahoma ballot for legalization of the use of marijuana and to exonerate and/or release from incarceration those previously convicted. The measure failed to reach the ballot. It is not clear if Tay will be continuing his campaign for governor. In August, he was arrested and charged with kidnaping and raping a woman in Tulsa who had responded to an ad for a job on Tay’s gubernatorial campaign.
For a more in-depth look at the race for Governor, see the article: “2022 Elections Generating Interest,” elsewhere in this edition.
Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell, 42, was elected to the office in 2018 with 61.89 percent of the vote. The former Oklahoma Republican Party chairman and small business owner was the youngest state Republican Party chairman in the country at the time of his election to that post. In 2010, he helped Republicans to secure all five congressional seats and every statewide elected office simultaneously for the first time in Oklahoma history. In 2013, former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Reince Priebus, appointed Pinnell as the RNC’s National State Party Director to serve as the chief liaison between the RNC and state parties. In that role, Pinnell traveled to all 50 states and played an integral role in Republicans taking control of the United States Senate in 2014 and helping Donald Trump win the White House in 2016. Pinnell is running for reelection and no challengers have announced for the post thus far.
AUDITOR AND INSPECTOR
Cindy Byrd, 49, was elected Auditor and Inspector in 2018 with 75.18 percent of the vote. Byrd is a CPA and has spent over two decades in state government. Before her election to the post, she served as Deputy Auditor and Inspector. She is running for reelection and no other candidates have announced for the position.
Earlier this year, State Attorney General Mike Hunter announced that he was resigning effective June 1. Hunter was elected to the post in 2018. On July 23, Governor Kevin Stitt announced the appointment of John O’Connor to serve as the Attorney General. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the Governor has the authority to fill the position should the office be vacated prior to the term’s expiration. O’Connor, 68, says he intends to be a candidate for election to a full term in 2022. O’Connor was an attorney at Hall Estill, a Tulsa-based regional full service law firm. He has 40 years of experience in the field of law, focusing on civil litigation including complex commercial and general civil litigation. In 2018, President Donald Trump nominated O’Connor to serve as a United States District Judge for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Oklahoma. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Oklahoma State University and graduated law school from the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Following the news of former Attorney General Mike Hunter’s resignation, Gentner Drummond 57, of Tulsa announced he will seek the Republican nomination for Attorney General again in 2022. Drummond served as an Air Force pilot during the Gulf War, and is an attorney, rancher, and businessman. He challenged Hunter for the 2018 GOP nomination and lost to Hunter in the Runoff Primary. He had not previously been active in the Republican Party and contributed to Democrat candidates who ran against Sen. Jim Inhofe, Sen. Tom Coburn, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine.
Incumbent Republican State Treasurer Randy McDaniel, elected in 2018, announced he will not seek reelection. Prior to his election as State Treasurer, McDaniel served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives where he was the Chairman of the House Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee. McDaniel began his career in banking and then worked for more than twenty years as a financial advisor for both individuals and institutions. Two Republicans have already announced they will seek the office of State Treasurer in 2022.
Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten was the first candidate to announce for the open seat for State Treasurer. Hooten, 59, is a small business owner and professional musician who has written campaign jingles for several Oklahoma politicians and released 20 albums. An internationally renowned musician, Hooten is a Grammy and Emmy nominated trumpet player. In 2016, Hooten filed for Oklahoma County Clerk, and in the Republican primary elections defeated incumbent Claudia Caudill, and went on to victory in the General Election. As County Clerk he functions as the comptroller for Oklahoma County, manages its accounting, budgeting, payroll, accounts payable, inventory and financial reporting systems. He serves as the recorder of deeds and all other land records for the state’s most populous county.
State Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell) is term-limited and cannot seek reelection to the House next year. He has a 69% cumulative average on the Oklahoma Conservative Index rating state legislators, but earned an 83% score in this year’s ratings which earned him a spot on the Top Conservatives list. Russ, 60, has more than 35 years of banking experience. He served as President and CEO of Washita State Bank in Burns Flat from 2003-2008. Russ sold the majority of his bank stock and began management consulting with banks and businesses in 2008. During his banking career, Russ served as a director of the Oklahoma Bankers Association (OBA) and Chairman of OBA’s Small Bank Council.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Joy Hofmeister was elected Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014, and reelected in 2018. Due to term-limits, she cannot run for reelection in 2022. Three candidates have already entered the race for the open seat.
Dr. John Cox of Peggs, is a career government educator working as a math teacher, coach, and administrator. He was the Democrat nominee for the office in 2014 and 2018, losing both times to Hofmeister. This time he is running as a Republican. He is in his 27th year as a school superintendent and his 35th year in the field of education. He also served as an adjunct professor of education at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, and currently teaches at Mid American Christian University. Cox, 57, earned a doctorate at Oklahoma State University.
Oklahoma Education Secretary Ryan Walters has joined the race for the Republican nomination. Governor Stitt appointed Walters as Education Secretary in September 2020. He also serves as executive director of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma. He previously taught history at McAlester High School, and currently teaches AP U.S. History at Millwood High School and McAlester High School . “As an educator myself, I have enjoyed following my students and seeing how their education in my classroom and countless others directly contributed to their personal success. I will not stop until every Oklahoma student is given the educational opportunities to succeed to their highest potential. That is what is driving my run for state Superintendent,” Walters said.
Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. April Grace, is also in the Republican race. She has worked in education for more than 30 years, and has served as Superintendent in Shawnee since 2016. Grace says she’s ready to take on the challenge after working through the pandemic. “We always face challenges, and challenges are no stranger to me. In Shawnee we opened our schools 5 days a week in the fall of last year by providing four different options to our families. While it was challenging, I am proud to say we closed school more days due to weather than to COVID.” She says as State Superintendent she will work to ensure families’ voices are heard and our children’s educational needs are met. “Understanding that critical race theory has no place in our PK-12 classrooms, I will ensure strong unbiased curriculum standards for our students and work to keep educators focused on meeting the needs of students and teaching our standards,” said Grace.
Former State Representative Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) Osborn, 58, was elected Labor Commissioner in 2018 with 61.73 percent of the vote. Osburn served as chair of the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee during the 2017 Legislative Session where she spearheaded approval of tax and fee increases, some of which were ruled unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. She had a cumulative average on the Oklahoma Conservative Index of 51 percent. Osborn is running for reelection. No challengers have announce for the position so far.
Former state Rep. Glen Mulready (R-Tulsa), 61, was elected Insurance Commissioner with 61.97 percent of the vote in 2018. While in the Legislature, he led efforts to reform the state’s insurance. During his time in the Legislature he had a cumulative average of 61% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. Prior to his election, he worked in the insurance industry for more than 33 years. He spent 13 years on the executive teams of Oklahoma’s two largest health insurance companies and for eight years was self-employed as an independent agent. Mulready is running for reelection and no other candidates have announced for the office.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates oil and gas drilling, electric and gas utilities, trucking, pipelines, and telecommunications in Oklahoma. There are three Corporation Commission seats with six-year staggered terms. So, every two years one of the seats is up for reelection. The seat held by Republican Dana Murphy is up for election in 2022. Murphy is term-limited and cannot run for reelection.
In June, Senate Majority Leader Kim David (R-Porter) announced she will seek the open Oklahoma Corporation Commission seat in 2022. “For the past decade, I’ve fought to ensure Oklahomans have reliable, affordable energy and strong infrastructure,” David said. “Serving on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission is the next step in continuing this important work while growing jobs and opportunities in our state.” Sen. David, 60, has a 62% cumulative average on the Oklahoma Conservative Index rating state legislators, but earned an 80% score in this year’s ratings.
Former state Senator Brian Bingman is also running for the seat. He was appointed by Gov. Stitt as Secretary of State and Native American Affairs last year. He previously served as Stitt’s Chief Policy Advisor. He served as Mayor of Sapulpa from 1992 to 2004. He served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2004 to 2006, and then in the Oklahoma Senate from 2006 to 2016. He was President Pro Tempore of the Senate from 2011 to 2016. He was term-limited from the Legislature in 2016. In 2018 he ran for the seat on the Corporation Commission held by Bob Anthony, and lost in the primary election.
Bingman, 67, began his professional career as a petroleum landman for Continental Oil Co. (now Conoco-Phillips) soon after graduating from college. He later became vice president of land and operations for Uplands Resources. He was one of the more moderate Republicans in the Legislature with a cumulative average of 59% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. Bingman regularly voted for new spending projects, such as the Oklahoma Pop Museum and the Indian Cultural Center. In addition, he supported the National Popular Vote scheme, which would have given all of Oklahoma’s electoral college votes to the Democrat presidential candidate, even though a majority of Oklahoman’s voted for the Republican.