Primary Election Results for Statewide Races and Congressional Seats
In 2020, the Oklahoma candidate filing period was April 8-10. The Primary Election was held on June 30, the Runoff Primary Election will be on August 25, and the General Election on November 3. In Presidential election years in Oklahoma, there are only a few statewide races on the ballot, plus the seats for the U.S. House of Representatives.
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. Only one of Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senate seats is up for election in 2020. Senator Jim Inhofe was reelected in 2014 and his term expires this year. Senator James Lankford was reelected in 2016 and his term will not be up until 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 five incumbents are running for reelection. There are three Oklahoma Corporation Commission seats with six-year staggered terms. So, every two years one of the seats is up for reelection. The seat held by Todd Hiett is up for election this year. Here is the status of these races following the primary elections.
Senator Jim Inhofe, 85, of Tulsa is running for another term. Inhofe has been a conservative leader since his days in the Oklahoma Legislature, as Mayor of Tulsa, his time in U.S. House of Representatives, and while in the U.S. Senate. Inhofe was first elected to the Senate in a special election in1994, and reelected with ease since then. This year he had three challengers for the Republican nomination. There were four Democrats vying for their party’s nomination. There is also a Libertarian, and two independents running.
Senator Inhofe easily won the Republican nomination with over 74% of the vote. His closest competitor was JJ Stitt, 46, of Kingfisher who received 15.31% of the vote. He and Gov. Stitt are second cousins, sharing the same great-grandfather. John Tompkins, 63, who is an Oklahoma City surgeon received 6.28%. Neil Mavis, 57, of Tulsa is a Wifi Engineer and finished in fourth place with 4.36%.
Of the four Democrats that were running, the best known is Abby Broyles, 30, of Oklahoma City. She secured the Democrat nomination with 60.45% of the vote. 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 recently completed law school, passed the bar, and is opening her own law practice.
Finishing in second place with 16.67% of the vote was Elysabeth Britt, 41, of Oklahoma City who is a Human Resources Professional. In 2018 she ran for the U.S. House in Oklahoma’s 5th congressional district, where she finished in third place in the Democrat primary.
Sheila Bilyeu, 76, of Freedom is a retired teacher and has been a frequent candidate for office. She took third place with 11.93% of the vote. The remaining Democrat in the race was R.O. Joe Cassity, Jr., 76, of Ponca City who finished close behind with 10.95%.
Robert Murphy, 72, of Norman won the Libertarian nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2016. Since he was the only Libertarian that filed this time, he will be on the ballot in the November General Election. He has run for various other offices in the past, including several races for Congress. He has run as a Libertarian when the party has had ballot status, and in other campaigns as an Independent.
Two candidates filed as Independents and will appear on the November ballot. Joan Farr, 64, of Tulsa is a pre-litigation consultant and legal reform activist. She ran for the seat in 2014. A. D. (April) Nesbit, 39, of Ada is college professor and biologist.
First District (Tulsa area) incumbent Republican Kevin Hern, 58, was elected to the seat in 2018. He replaced Congressman Jim Bridenstine who did not run for a fourth term and was nominated by President Trump to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Hern is the owner of KTAK Coorporation which owns and operates ten McDonald’s restaurants employing over 400 people in the Tulsa area. No other Republicans filed, but he will be opposed by a Democrat and an Independent in the November election.
There were two Democrats competing for the nomination. Kojo Asamoa-Caesar, 33, of Tulsa is the son of immigrants and won the Democrat nomination with 63.64% of the vote. He is a law school graduate who chose to become a kindergarten teacher. His rival for the nomination was Mark A. Keeter, 63, a Tulsa businessman and engineer. He ran for the seat in 2018, and finished in fourth place in the Democrat primary that year. This time he garnered 36.36% of the primary vote.
Independent candidate Evelyn L. Rogers, 67, of Tulsa will also be on the November ballot. She is a college librarian and perennial candidate. She ran for the U.S. Senate in 2008 and 2014, and six times for a seat in the U.S. House. She has also run for the Oklahoma Legislature.
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 by registration.
Congressman Markwayne Mullin, 42, of Westville 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. When he first ran for office in 2012, he said he would serve no more than six years in Congress, but decided to run for reelection in 2018 anyway. Mullin, who has a generally conservative voting record, was reelected in 2018 with 65 percent of the vote. Mullin was opposed for the Republican nomination this time by two other candidates. He won the Republican nomination this time with almost 80% of the vote.
State Senator Joseph Silk, 33, of Watson chose not to run for reelection and to instead challenge Congressman Mullin. Silk, who is a Broken Bow Lake resort property manager, said he decided to leave the Legislature because of its “very liberal” leadership. He finished in second place with 12.7% of the vote.
Also running for the Republican nomination was Rhonda Hopkins, 44, of Rose. She finished behind Sen. Silk with 7.39%. In 2016 and 2018 she was a candidate for state representative.
Since Danyell Lanier, 44, of Hugo was the only Democrat to file, she advances to the November election. In 2018, she was the Democrat candidate for Collin County court judge in Texas. She lost the General Election after advancing from the primary.
Libertarian Richie Castaldo, 38, of Afton will also be on the November ballot. As in 2018, he was the only Libertarian to file. He is a street pastor with Grand Lake Life.
The third district covers most of the north central and northwestern parts of the state, including the panhandle. Long-time Congressman Frank Lucas, 60, 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. He was unopposed for the Republican nomination, but will be opposed by a Democrat in the General Election.
Zoe Midyett, 51, of Wellston was the only Democrat to file and will be on the November ballot. In 2006, she took over her favorite feed store, Red Earth Feed & Tack, in Oklahoma City.
The Fourth District covers much of the south central and southwestern parts of the state. Congressman Tom Cole, 70, of Moore 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 and he was challenged for the nomination by three other Republicans. Congressman Cole easily won renomination with over 76% of the vote.
James Taylor, 61, of Norman challenged Cole for the Republican nomination in 2016 and 2018 and finished in second place this time with 15.19% of the primary vote. Taylor was one of two Republicans to run against Cole in 2016 and finished in second place to Cole with 18% of the vote that year. When he ran in 2018 he received 35% of the vote against Cole. Dr. Taylor, who is black, is a U.S. History teacher and is the former Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church in Norman.
Trevor Sipes, 39, of Moore is a real estate Broker, home inspector, remodeler-investor, and a photographer. He finished in third place with 5.97%.
Also running for the Republican nomination was Gilbert O. Sanders, 74, of Choctaw. He is a psychologist and is retired from the Army and the U.S. Public Health Service. He finished in last place with 2.51% of the vote.
Three Democrats were competing for the nomination of their party. Mary Brannon, 68, of Washington won the nomination in 2018 and secured the nomination this time with 63.85% of the primary vote. She is a teacher and school counselor. Brannon received 33% of the vote in the General Election against Cole in 2018.
David R. Slemmons, 71, of Norman is a retired librarian, poet, actor and human rights Activist. He finished in second place with 19.42%. John D. Argo, 68, of Norman was the other Democrat running for the nomination and received 16.73%.
Advancing to the November ballot will be Libertarian candidate Bob White, 71, of Norman who was the only Libertarian to file.
The big news coming out of the 2018 Oklahoma congressional elections was the flipping of the Fifth District seat from Republican to Democrat. 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 has a Democrat woman to Congress. Alice Mary Robertson was a Republican who won a seat in Congress in 1920. The Fifth District includes most of Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties in the central portion of the state.
Horn, 43, was 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 had also served as press secretary for former Second District Congressman Brad Carson and previously managed political campaigns. She 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.
In 2018, Horn won the Democrat runoff with 76% of the vote in the runoff primary over Tom Guild who has been a perennial candidate. Guild, 65, of Edmond was the lone Democrat challenger to Horn this year. Guild was the only Democrat to file for the seat in 2012. He ran for the seat two years earlier, losing in the primary. He also lost the Democrat nomination in 2014 and 2016. He 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. Kendra Horn secured renomination with 85.69% of the vote, with Guild receiving just 14.31%.
Nine Republicans were competing to return the seat to the GOP, which made a Runoff Primary Election likely. Since no candidate won more than 50% of the primary vote, the top two contenders now advance to the Primary Runoff Election on August 25.
Businesswoman Terry Neese, 72, of Oklahoma City finished first with 36.48%. Neese is a lifelong Oklahoman and has spent over thirty years finding careers for men and women. She is the founder of Terry Neese Personnel Services (TNPS), National Grassroots Network, Women Impacting Public Policy, and the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW). Neese made history in 1990 as the first woman nominated by a major political party for lieeutenant governor of Oklahoma. She is considered to be the most conservative of the candidates remaining in the race.
State Sen. Stephanie Bice, 46, of Edmond finished in second place with 25.41% of the primary vote. Bice was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2014 and reelected in 2018, and serves as Assistant Majority Floor Leader in the Senate and Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. She is credited with modernizing Oklahoma’s liquor laws by engineering the first overhaul since 1959 when prohibition was repealed in the state. Since she will be in the middle of her term, she would remain in her Senate seat if she fails in her election bid for Congress. Bice is a RINO (Republican In Name Only) Republican, earning only a 56% cumulative average on the Oklahoma Conservative Index for the six years that she has been in office. At the 2015 Southern Republican Leadership Conference, her speech sounded more like what one would expect to hear at a Democratic Party event.
Edmond businessman David Hill, 52, took third place with 18.99%. Hill began his business career at Kimray, Inc. in 1983, a manufacturer of control valves and related equipment for oil and gas producing companies which was founded in 1948 by Hill’s great-grandfather, Garman Kimmell Sr., and grandfather Garman Kimmell. Hill served as President and CEO of the company when he left in 2013, and has served in executive positions at two other energy companies – Logic Energy Solutions and Petrosmith. But, he started turning wrenches at the age of 16 fixing and rebuilding classic cars, and in 2016 he became the owner and operator of MAR-K, the nation’s leading manufacturer of over 6,000 component parts for classic automobiles and trucks. Hill has publicly endorsed Neese in the run-off.
Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, 68, of Oklahoma City finished in fourth place with 9.99%. She ran a successful dental practice for over 24 years. Following the death of her husband in 2009, she and her sons became strong advocates of appropriate mental health treatment, suicide prevention and support for families surviving suicide. After her husband’s death she and one of her sons took over the operation of Cosmo Energy. Barresi also became an education reformer and supporter of education choice. She was part of the Republican tidal wave of 2010, becoming the first Republican elected as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. But, she faced opposition, even within the Republican Party, after her strong support for the set of educational standards known as Common Core, which the Republican-dominated Legislature would later vote to repeal. Common Core, praised by Democrat President Barack Obama, is widely considered by conservative activists as an attempt to implement liberal national standards into the public schools, and even in private schools. Barresi ran for reelection in 2014, but lost in the Republican primary.
The five other candidates each received less than 3% of the vote. Jake A. Merrick, 38, of Yukon who is a pastor, author, life coach, and trainer received 2.55%. Michael Ballard, 50, of Tecumseh received 2.48%. He is a retired disabled veteran and in 2014 was a candidate for a State Senate seat. Miles V. Rahimi, 30, of Edmond is a Navy veteran and received 1.42%. Shelli Landon, 62, of Tulsa is a minister, film animator, and musician who received 1.34%. And, Charles Tuffy Pringle, 83, of McLoud is a retiree who finished last with 1.33%.
While Congresswoman Horn managed to narrowly defeat Congressman Russell in the 2018 election, she may have a tough time being reelected. Russell failed to aggressively campaign and was outspent in the 2018 race, but the Republican nominee in 2020 will be mounting a strong, and well-funded campaign. Also, President Trump will be at the top of the ballot and is expected to do well in Oklahoma, providing coattails that should help other Republicans further down on the ballot.
Oklahoma Corporation Commission
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. Dana Murphy was reelected in 2016, Bob Anthony in 2018, and former Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, Todd Hiett, was elected commissioner in 2014. The seat held by Hiett is up for election this year. Hiett, 52, is a rancher from Kellyville and was the first Republican House Speaker in Oklahoma since 1921. He earned a 73% cumulative rating on the Oklahoma Conservative Index during his tenure in the Legislature.
Hiett was challenged for the Republican nomination by Harold Spradling, 85, of Cherokee. Spradling ran for the seat held by Bob Anthony in 2018, and finished in third place with 14% of the vote in the Republican Primary. The retired businessman and social worker was also a candidate for the Oklahoma House in 1994. Hiett easily won renomination with 74.59% of vote over Spradling’s 25.41%.
No Democrats filed for the seat, but Hiett will face Libertarian candidate Todd Hagopian, 40, of Bixby. Earlier this year, Hagopian ran for the Bixby Public Schools school board and lost in the primary election. Hagopian has been the President of Unarco for two years, and previously was a business unit manager for US Weigh Wrap Division in Dayton, Ohio and before that he worked as a Senior Sales Manager for Whirlpool Corporation.