Statewide Secondary Offices
By: Constitution Staff
In addition to the governor’s office, a host of secondary statewide offices, and one seat for the Corporation Commission are up for election in 2018. The Primary Election was held on June 26, the Runoff Primary Election will be on August 28, and the General Election on November 6.
Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb was elected to the office in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He was term-limited and could not run for reelection in 2018. With the post open in 2018, four Republicans, two Democrats, and an Independent filed for the seat. Independent candidate Ivan Holmes, 81, of Oklahoma City is a former chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. He is a retired college professor and ran for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014, losing in the Democrat primary. He will be on the November ballot along with the Republican and Democrat nominees selected in the respective primary elections.
Since there were four candidates running for the Republican nomination, the nomination was not expected to be settled until the August 28 runoff primary. There were 429,483 votes cast in the GOP primary.
Dominque Damon Block of Oklahoma City is a private investigator. In 2010 he was a Republican candidate for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in District 88. Block, who is a Black, was probably the most conservative of the Republican candidates. However, he was not able to complete with the media campaigns of the other candidates. He finished in last place with 4.72 percent of the vote.
State Sen. Eddie Fields (R-Wynona) is a rancher and small businessman from Osage County. He was first elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2010 after serving one term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He was reelected in 2014. While he could have run and been reelected in 2018, due to the 12-year legislative term limits he would not be able to complete a full term because of his time in the House. He has a cumulative average of 53% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. He finished in third place with 13.74 percent of the vote.
Former Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman and small business owner Matt Pinnell finished in second place with 35.69 percent of the vote, securing a place on the August 28 runoff ballot. Pinnell, now 38, was the youngest state Republican Party chairman in the country at the time of his election to the post. In 2010, he helped the Oklahoma party 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.
Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy of Edmond finished first with 45.84 percent of the primary vote and will join Pinnell on the runoff ballot. Murphy, 58, was first elected to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in 2008 in a Special Election to fill the remainder of the term of Denise Bode who resigned. Murphy won reelection in 2010 for a full six year term. She did not have a Republican challenger in 2016, and the Democrat withdrew from the race. She can continue to serve in the position while running for Lieutenant Governor, and remain in office if she is not elected. She had a large campaign fund that she was able to transfer to the current race, which gave her a fundraising advantage.
Since there were only two Democrats making the race, the winner of the June 26 primary election secured the Democrat nomination and advances to the November election. There were 374,661 votes cast in the primary.
Anna Dearmore, 65, of Okmulgee finished a close second with 49.58 percent of the vote. She was a 2016 Democratic candidate for District 16 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, losing in the primary election. She has more than 30 years experience in marketing the tourism industry and brokering real estate.
State Sen. Anastasia Pittman (D-Oklahoma City) was term-limited and could not run for reelection in 2018. Pittman, 47, has a cumulative average of 26% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. She is a public relations consultant and tutor. She secured the Democrat nomination with 50.42 percent of the vote, about 3,000 votes ahead of Dearmore.
AUDITOR AND INSPECTOR
Gary Jones, a Certified Public Accountant and a former Republican State Chairman, was elected State Auditor and Inspector in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He was term-limited in 2018. Three Republicans and a Libertarian filed for the office. Since no Democrats filed, the Republican nominee will face John Yeutter, 63, of Tahlequah who is an accountant and financial planner in the November election.
There were 413,050 votes cast in the June 26 primary. Accountant John Uzzo of Tahlequah finished in third place with 8.47 percent of the primary vote. Charlie Prater, 66, of Edmond, is an accountant and a former healthcare company executive. He finished second with 42.08 percent of the vote, securing a spot on the runoff primary ballot. He will face Deputy State Auditor Cindy Byrd, 45, who took first place with 49.45 percent of the vote, which was almost enough to gain the nomination without a runoff. Byrd is a Certified Public Accountant and has spent more than 20 years in state government.
Former state senator Scott Pruitt was elected Attorney General in 2010 and was reelected in 2014. Due to term limits, Pruitt would not be able to run for a third term in 2018. In the weeks following the presidential election, President-elect Trump announced that Pruitt was his choice to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the cabinet level department last year and resigned as Oklahoma Attorney General. Gov. Fallin then appointed Secretary of State Mike Hunter to fill the post. Hunter, and two other Republicans filed for election to the position. Mark Myles, 61, of Oklahoma City was the only Democrat to file and will appear on the November ballot. He is an attorney and ran unsuccessfully for the Democrat nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2010.
There were 430,702 votes cast in theJune 26 primary. Attorney Angela Bonilla of Owasso finished in third place with 17.09 percent of the vote. Gentner Drummond, 54, of Hominy is an attorney, rancher, and businessman. He served as an Air Force pilot during the Gulf War. Drummond has not previously been active in the Republican Party and contributed to liberal Democrat candidates who ran against Sen. Jim Inhofe, Sen. Tom Coburn, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine. He finished in second place with 38.45 percent of the vote. This gained him a spot in the runoff primary with Hunter who received 44.46 percent of the vote.
Mike Hunter, 61, served as first assistant attorney general under Pruitt until Fallin named him Secretary of State and special legal counsel. As first assistant attorney general from June 2015 until October 2016, he served as chief legal adviser and oversaw a staff of over 200 lawyers, law enforcement agents and support staff. From 2010 to 2015, Hunter was the chief operating officer of the American Bankers Association (ABA). Prior to joining the ABA, Hunter was secretary of the Commissioners of the Land Office, a $4 billion public land and investment trust in Oklahoma. From 2002 through 2009, Hunter was executive vice president and chief operating officer of the American Council of Life Insurers. He also served as Oklahoma’s Secretary of State under then-Gov. Frank Keating. He was chief of staff to then-U.S. Rep. J. C. Watts Jr., of Oklahoma, from 1995 to 1999. While in private practice he worked as an energy and real estate lawyer. He also served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1985-1990 where he had a cumulative average of 61% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. He has been active in protecting religious liberties and stepped in to protect the cross at a university chapel when a group outside the state tried to force its removal.
Former state representative Ken Miller was elected State Treasurer in 2010 and reelected in 2014 and was term-limited. Only one Republican filed for the office. State Rep. Randy McDaniel, 50, of Edmond, serves as the Chairman of the House Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee. In the Legislature he authored and passed a series of pension reforms. McDaniel has a cumulative average of 72% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index.
No Democrats filed, but Charles De Coune, 46,of Oklahoma City, filed as an Independent. He is a loan manager. The two candidates advance to the November election.
SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
Joy Hofmeister, 53, of Tulsa is the current Superintendent of Public Instruction and filed for reelection. She defeated Janet Barresi, the Republican incumbent, in the 2014 Republican primary and defeated the Democratic candidate, John Cox, in the general election. Her reelection campaign for 2018 appeared to be in jeopardy last year when Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater filed charges against her and several others alleging they illegally colluded with an independent expenditure group to win election in 2014. Prosecutors alleged Hofmeister used the group, Oklahomans for Public School Excellence, to accept illegal excessive donations and illegal corporate donations. Prosecutors alleged they helped create and fund the group which raised $300,000 to pay for ads critical of Barresi. However, the charges were dropped, without explanation, last summer. She was supportive of the recent teacher strike.
There were 429,090 votes cast in the June 26 primary. In addition to Hofmeister, two other Republicans filed for the post. Will Farrell, 32, of Tulsa finished in third place in the GOP primary with 22.12 percent of the vote.
Linda Murphy took second place with 31.05 percent, earning her a spot on the August 28 runoff primary ballot. Murphey, 66, was the Republican candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1994 and narrowly lost the election to Democratic incumbent Sandy Garrett, taking 49.5 percent of the vote. She was appointed by Governor Frank Keating as Secretary of Education. She later served as Deputy Commissioner of Labor; Administrator of the Eastern Oklahoma Department of Labor; member of the State Job Training Coordinating Council; and served on the Governor’s School-to-Work Council, and the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. She was also the Republican nominee against Garrett in 1998. More recently Murphy traveled statewide speaking to Republicans about the need to repeal Common Core State Standards which was successfully accomplished in 2014. She is a longtime columnist for the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper, writing on education issues., and offers a clear alternative to Hofmeister, who is a much more status quo educrat.
Murphy says, “Oklahoma public schools need new leadership in the State Department of Education that will work for Local Control of education. I will work with teachers to bring the best-proven practices into the classroom. It is time to let teachers teach and share what works best and stop the ‘top-down’ control! We must work for the goal that is our passion and desire, Education Excellence in Oklahoma Public Schools!”
Hofmeister fell short of the 50 percent mark, receiving 46.83 percent of the primary vote, and will face Murphey in the August 28 runoff primary. The winner will face a Democrat and an Independent in the November election.
Dr. John Cox, 54, of Peggs, is a career government educator and will again be the Democrat nominee for the post. He lost to Hofmeister in the November 2014 general election. He is in his 24th year as a school superintendent and his 32nd year in the field of education. He also serves as an adjunct professor of education at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. Cox earned a doctorate at Oklahoma State.
Independent candidate, Larry Huff, 76, of Oklahoma City is a retired teacher.
Melissa Houston is currently serving as Labor Commissioner and did not file for the seat in 2018. She was appointed to the post by Gov. Fallin after the murder of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello in 2015. Costello, was elected in 2010 and reelected in 2014. Prior to his election, he was President and CEO of Oklahoma City-based USA Digital Communications which he founded in 1998. He was murdered by his mentally ill eldest son, Christian. Three Republicans, two Democrats, and an Independent filed for the post.
There were 419,950 votes cast in the June 26 primary. Three Republicans filed for the seat. Keith Swinton of Norman worked for the past 28 years for the United States Postal Service’s National Center for Employee Development. He finished in third place with 20.82 percent of the vote.
State Representative Leslie Osborn (R-Mustang) finished in second place with 35.92 percent of the vote, giving her a spot in the runoff primary. As chair of the Oklahoma House Appropriations and Budget Committee during the 2017 Legislative Session she spearheaded approval of tax and fee increases, some of which were ruled unconstitutional by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Osborn, 54, has a cumulative average on the Oklahoma Conservative Index of 51percent.
Cathy Costello, widow of the former Labor Commissioner, finished in the top spot with 43.26 percent of the vote. “I do not want anyone’s vote because of the tragedy of my past. I am asking for everyone’s vote because of my vision for the future.” Costello plans to implement reforms to improve workplace safety, promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to cultivate Oklahoma’s future workforce, and reduce the loss of wealth and productivity due to untreated mental illness. Since her husband’s death, Costello, 58, has become an advocate for reforming mental health policies. “Mental illness is the leading cause of lost workplace productivity and accounts for 30% of disability costs,” says Costello.
The AFL-CIO announced its endorsement of Leslie Osborn in the Oklahoma Labor Commissioner race and Cathy Costello said she is happy to see the union is supporting her opponent. “The AFL-CIO kingpins have no interest in what is best for the people of Oklahoma,” Cathy Costello says. “The leadership of the AFL-CIO is notoriously liberal, operating as a political machine, that has prioritized its agenda above the interest of workers across the country. Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly passed Right To Work, yet AFL-CIO bosses have relentlessly fought to reverse that law so they can strong-arm our workers into paying union dues. I proudly stand against the entire AFL-CIO agenda.”
There were 367,149 votes cast in the Democrat primary. Since only two Democrats filed, the nomination was settled in the June 26 primary. Sam Mis-soum of Tulsa, is a businessman and a testing engineer. He finished in second with 26.57 percent of the vote. The winner was Fred Dorrell, 63, of Broken Arrow who took 73.43 percent of the vote. He is a human resources professional.
The Republican and Democrat nominees will face Independent candidate Brandt Dismukes, 63, of Oklahoma City on the November general election ballot.
John Doak was elected State Insurance Commissioner in 2010 and reelected in 2014 and was term-limited in 2018. Two Republicans and one Democrat filed for the post.
There were 400,042 votes cast in the June 26 primary. Donald Chasteen of Inola finished in second place with 45.25 percent of the vote. State Rep. Glen Mulready (R-Tulsa) won the GOP nomination with 54.75 percent of the vote. Mulready, 57, led efforts to reform the state’s insurance laws in his capacity as a state legislator. He was first elected to represent House District 68 in 2010 and currently serves as the Majority Floor Leader. He has a cumulative average of 61% on the Oklahoma Conservative Index. He has 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 the last eight years has been self-employed as an independent agent.
Mulready will face the lone Democrat in the race in the General Election. Kimberly Fobbs, 52, of Tulsa is the chair of the Tulsa County Democratic Party, and is a business consultant. She was the Democrat nominee for a state Senate seat in 2016.
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 Bob Anthony is up for election in 2018. Anthony, 69, is running for a sixth term. While the term limits law for state offices only allows two terms for members of the commission, the law did not apply to the seat until 2012 when Anthony was reelected. He is therefore allowed to seek reelection in 2018. Three Republicans, four Democrats, and an Independent filed for the seat.
There were 418,541 votes cast in the June 26 primary. Harold Spradling of Cherokee finished in third place with 14.42 percent of the vote. The retired businessman and social worker was a candidate for the Oklahoma House in 1994.
Former Oklahoma Senate Pro-Tempore Brian Bingman finished in second place with 38.42 percent of the vote and will be in the August 28 runoff primary. Bingman, 64, began his career as a petroleum landman for Continental Oil Co. (now Conoco-Phillips) soon after graduating from college. Today, he is vice president of land and operations for Uplands Resources. He served 12 years in the Oklahoma Legislature, and served as the Senate leader for six years before being term-limited from office in 2016. 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 Barack Obama. Channel 9 TV in Oklahoma City reported in 2010 that Bingman was one of the biggest spenders in the Senate in 2009 in taking trips, paid for by the taxpayer. When reporter Amy Lester asked Bingman if there was a benefit for the taxpayers in the trips, he responded, “Uh, there’s probably, I’d have to think about that.”
Bob Anthony finished in first place with 47.16 percent of the vote. Anthony is the grandson of C. R. Anthony, the founder of one of Oklahoma’s greatest department store chains. In 1988, Anthony ran for a seat on the Corporation Commission and won that race easily. When Anthony took office at the Commission, he found a cesspool of corruption. William “Tator” Anderson, a utilities lobbyist was bribing commissioners, and he attempted to bribe Anthony. Anthony worked undercover with the FBI which enabled federal prosecutors to send Anderson and a fellow commissioner to prison. He was reelected by large margins in subsequent elections in 1994, 2000, 2006, and 2012.
The voters evidently place great trust in Anthony’s honesty and integrity.
There were 370,417 votes cast in the Democrat primary. Ken Reich of Idabel finished in last place with 10.21 percent of the vote. Beau Williams of Edmond, is an attorney, and finished in third place with 18.83 percent of the vote. Blake Cummings finished in second place with 22.17 percent of the vote, which gave him a spot on the August 28 runoff ballot. Cummings, 58, of Maud is an oil/gas consultant. He was in the election for the vacant Oklahoma House District 28 seat, and lost in the primary. Ashley Nicole McCray, 34, of Norman, is an historian and Native American community activist. She took the top spot with 48.79 percent of the primary vote, almost enough to gain the nomination in the June 26 primary election.
Independent candidate Jackie Short, 66, of Oklahoma City will join the Republican and Democrat nominees on the November general election ballot.
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