Races for Congress
By: Constitution Staff
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. Neither of Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senate seats are up for election in 2018. Senator Jim Inhofe was reelected in 2014 and his term will not expire until after the 2020 election. Senator James Lankford was reelected in 2016 and his term will not be up until 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. The Primary Election was held on June 26, the Runoff Primary Election on August 28, and the General Election on November 6.
U.S. House – Fist District
First District (Tulsa area) incumbent Republican Jim Bridenstine did not run for a fourth term. When he first ran for Congress, Bridenstine pledged to only serve three terms. If there were any doubts whether he would change his mind and decide to run again, those were removed when he was nominated by President Trump to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The U.S. Senate confirmed Bridenstine’s appointment in April and he resigned his seat in Congress. The seat will be filled in the regular election cycle since the vacancy occurred during an election year. Ten candidates, including five Republicans and five Democrats, filed for the seat.
With five Republicans in the race, the Republican nominee was unlikely to be determined until the August 28 runoff primary between the two top finishers in the June 26 primary. There were 103,473 votes cast in the Republican primary. Danny Stockstill, the lead pastor at Brookside Baptist Church in Tulsa, finished in last place with 7.83 percent of the vote. State Senator Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow has been a strong conservative voice in the Oklahoma Senate. He has a cumulative average of 98 percent on the Oklahoma Conservative Index published by the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper. He previously ran for the seat in Congress prior to his election to the Oklahoma Senate in 2012. He finished in fourth place in the June 26 primary with 20.17 percent of the vote. Andy Coleman of Owasso came in third with 21.85 percent. The Iraq War veteran returned home, graduated from law school, and became an associate at an international law firm. He later left the practice of law and entered the full-time ministry.
Kevin Hern, 56, is the owner of KTAK Coorporation which owns and operates ten McDonald’s restaurants which employs over 400 people in the Tulsa area. He was the chairman of the finance committee of the Oklahoma Republican Party. He finished in second place with 22.68 percent of the vote, which gave him a spot on the August 28 runoff ballot.
Tim Harris, 65, was elected District Attorney in Tulsa County in 1998. He was reelected in subsequent elections and served 16 years in the position, becoming the longest holder of the office in the history of the county. He finished in first place with 27.48 percent of the vote. He will square off with Hern in the runoff primary.
It has been more than 30 years since a Democrat has held the seat, but five Democrats filed in the hope of flipping the open seat. As with the Republicans, with five Democrats in the race, it was considered unlikely that the nomination would be awarded in the June 26 election. There were 71,245 votes cast in the primary.
David Matthew Hullum of Tulsa filed for the seat as an Independent in 2016, but withdrew his name before the election. This time he took last place with 5.02 percent of the vote. Mark Keeter of Tulsa finished in fourth place with 8.46 percent of the vote. Gwendolyn Fields, a criminal justice reform advocate, was the third place finisher with 19.62 percent.
Amanda Douglas, 36, of Broken Arrow is an oil and gas business analyst. She finished in second place with 32.41percent, earning her a spot on the August 28 runoff ballot. Tim Gilpin, 57, of Tulsa has practiced law in Oklahoma since 1986 and served as an Assistant Attorney General under Robert Henry. He finished in first place with 34.48 percent and will face Douglas in the runoff primary.
U.S. House – Second District
The Second District covers 26 counties in eastern Oklahoma, stretching south from the Kansas state line to the Red River border with Texas. After the 2010 census and minor redistricting, the district remains the most Democratic in the state in terms of registration. Markwayne Mullin, 40, is running for a another term. When he first ran for office in 2012, he said he would serve no more than six years in Congress, but decided to again run for reelection anyway. Mullin owns Mullin Plumbing which spans much of the state. He also has ranching operations in Adair and Wagoner counties. Mullin was opposed for the Republican nomination by three candidates. Four Democrats also filed for the seat. In addition to the Republican and Democrat nominees, there will be two other candidates on the November election ballot. Richard Castaldo, 36, of Grove was the only Libertarian to file. John Foreman, 53, of Park Hill filed as an Independent.
There were 60,314 votes cast in the June 26 primary. While there was a possibility of a runoff since there were more than two candidates competing for the nomination, that is less likely where there is an incumbent. The big question was if Mullin would get over 50 percent of the vote and avoid a runoff.
John McCarthy of Afton ran as an Independent candidate against Mullin in 2016, but ran as a Republican this time. He received 6 percent of the vote in the 2016 General Election. He is a mortgage broker and his main issue in 2016 was speeding up the process to find a cure for cancer. He finished last in the June 26 primary with 9.2 percent of the vote.
Brian Jackson of Muskogee is an associate professor of economics and accounting at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah. He is no relation to the other Jackson in the race. He finished in third place with 11.45 percent of the vote.
Two years ago, Mullin was challenged in the Republican Primary by Jarrin Jackson of Owasso. Jackson graduated from West Point and served two tours of duty in Afghanistan. He serves as an executive of a non-profit organization. He received 37 percent of the vote against Mullin in the 2016 GOP primary, but received 25.21 percent and took second place behind Mullin this time.
Mullin received 54.14 percent of the vote, securing the nomination without a runoff.
With four candidates vying for the Democrat nomination, a runoff primary was expected. There were 85,990 votes cast in the Democrat primary.
Virginia Blue Jeans Jenner, 78, is a retired dental hygienist from Wagoner. She ran for governor in 1986, the First District congressional seat in 1988, U.S. Senate in 1990, Labor Commissioner in 1994 and 1998, the Second District congressional seat in 1996, state House District 12 in 2000, and Labor Commissioner again in 2002. She finished in last place in the election this year with 18.86 percent of the vote. She finished slightly behind the third place finisher, Elijah McIntosh of Tahlequah. He received 19.02 percent.
Clay Padgett, 48, is from Soper. He is a retired Army Colonel and a veteran of Iraq/Afghan War. He is currently persuing a degree in education. He took second place with 24.23 percent of the vote, and will have a spot on the runoff ballot.
Jason Nichols, 43, is serving his second term as mayor of Tahlequah and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Northeastern State University where he is now an instructor of Political Science. He finished in first place with 37.88 percent of the vote. He will face Padgett in the August 28 runoff primary.
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, 58, 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. 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 unopposed for the Republican nomination this year, but will be challenged by the Democrat nominee in the General Election.
Since only two Democrats filed, the Democrat nominee was selected in the June primary. There were 59,791 votes cast. Frankie Robbins, 72, of Medford was the Democrat nominee and lost to Lucas in 2008, 2010, and 2016. He also ran in 2012, but lost in the primary election. He came out the winner in the June 26 primary with 64.84 percent. Robbins, a Civil Engineer, is retired from the U.S. Forest Service. The other Democrat in the race, businessman Murray Mark Thibodeaux, received 35.16 percent.
U.S. House – Fourth District
The Fourth District covers much of south central and southwestern parts of the state. Congressman Tom Cole, 68, 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 markedly less conservative. He had one challenger for the Republican nomination this year, and four Democrats filed. There will also be an Independent candidate on the November ballot, Ruby Peters, 74, of Lawton. In 2016 she ran for a seat in the Oklahoma House.
There were 86,390 votes cast in the GOP primary. Dr. James Taylor, 59, of Norman also challenged Cole for the Republican nomination in 2016. Taylor was one of two Republicans to run against Cole in 2016 and finished in second place with 18 percent of the vote in that election. Dr. Taylor, who is black, is a U.S. History teacher and is the Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church in Norman. He is the author of, It’s Biblical, Not Political, which guides Christian voters on how to vet political candidates to ensure they will follow the Constitution and the intent of our Founding Fathers to limit federal power while protecting the rights of the states and people respectively. He again finished second to Cole this year, with 35.26 percent of the vote. Congressman Cole received 64.74 percent and will be challenged in the General Election by the Democrat nominee.
There are four candidates competing for the Democrat nomination and a runoff primary was expected. There were 74,959 votes cast in the June 26 primary.
Roxann Klutts of Moore is a teacher and finished in last place with 16.67 percent of the vote. Mallory Varner, of Midwest City took third place with 18.61 percent.
Fred Gipson, 81, of Norman is an attorney. Early in his career he served as a legislative assistant to Oklahoma U.S. Senator Fred Harris. He later served as Chief Counsel to the University of Oklahoma and also taught Political Science and Higher Education Law. Since leaving the University, he has been practicing law and running several businesses. He finished in second place with 30.36 percent of the vote and will be on the runoff ballot.
Mary Brannon, 66, is from Washington, Oklahoma. She is a teacher and school counselor. She finished in the top spot with 34.36 percent. She will compete with Gipson in the August 28 runoff primary.
U.S. House – Fifth District
The 5th District includes most of Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties. Former state Senator Steve Russell was elected to the seat in 2014 and was reelected in 2016. Russell, 54, is running for reelection. He lives in Choctaw. He had two challengers for the Republican nomination and six Democrats also filed.
There were 78,962 votes case in the June 26 GOP primary. Two other Republicans filed to challenge Congressman Russell for the nomination. DeJuan Edwards of Edmond finished last with 6.7 percent of primary vote. Gregory Dunson of Oklahoma City finished in second place with 9.68 percent. Congressman Russell was renominated with 83.62 percent of the vote.
As more Republicans voters have moved outside the Oklahoma City metro area, Democrats have been able to flip some legislative seats in the area from Republican. This has given them hope that they could flip the seat in Congress as well. Six candidates filed for the Democrat nomination, which made a runoff primary likely. There were 79,581 votes cast in the June 26 primary.
Tyson Todd Meade of Oklahoma City is an artist and rock star (founder/singer of the Chainsaw Kittens). He finished in last place with 5.69 percent of the vote. Leona Kelley-Leonard of Seminole ran for the seat in 2014 and 2016, and finished third in the primary election both times. She finished in fifth place this time with 8.42 percent of the vote. Ed Porter is a consultant for the American Correctional Association. He formerly worked for the state Office of Juvenile Affairs. He took fourth place with 10.63 percent of the vote. Elysabeth Britt of Oklahoma City is a human resources professional. She finished in third place with 13.51 percent of the vote.
Tom Guild, 63, of Edmond was the only Democrat to file for the seat in 2012. He ran for the seat two years earlier, but lost in the primary. He also lost the Democrat nomination in 2014 and 2016. Guild taught political science and legal studies at the University of Central Oklahoma for 27 years and three years at Oklahoma City University. Years ago, when he was a registered Republican, Guild made three races for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, but lost in the Republican Primary the last two times. He even went so far as to put the word “Reagan” on his campaign signs, and claimed to be a conservative Republican. He now calls himself a Progressive Democrat. He finished in second place with 17.91 percent of the vote and will have a spot in the August 28 runoff.
Kendra Horn is a professional mediator and executive director of Women Lead Oklahoma which is a nonprofit organization working to empower women to be leaders and be engaged in civil activities. She was press secretary for former Second District Congressman Brad Carson and previously managed political campaigns and served as executive director of Sally’s List which supports women running for elected office. She lives in Oklahoma City and is a native of Chickasha. She finished first with 43.84 percent. She will be challenged by Guild in the runoff.
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