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Political Tornado Strikes Oklahoma GOP

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The 2014 election season has arrived in Oklahoma. In late 2013 it appeared the controversy over both Common Core and the A-F grading system would make the State Superintendent of Public Instruction race the hottest fire burning. With the resignation of Senator Tom Coburn two years before the end of his term, throw everything you thought you knew out the window. Here are some of the bigger races and who is potentially on deck:

Governor: Mary Fallin, incumbent (OKC area, former State House Representative, Lieutenant Governor, Congresswoman from 5th District)

Randy Brogdon, challenger and former State Senator from the Tulsa area (Owasso), as well as Mayor of Owasso. Lost to Fallin in 2010 by less than 38,000 votes.

State Superintendent: Janet Barressi, incumbent (Edmond area)

Joy Hofmeister, challenger (Tulsa area)

At least one other candidate is rumored to be considering this race.

Lieutenant Governor, Labor Commissioner, Attorney General, State Auditor and Inspector, Treasurer, Corporation Commissioner and Insurance Commissioner – no well known or funded challengers at this time, however if Congressman Bridenstine runs for Senate, this may change.

US Senate #1: James “Jim” Inhofe, incumbent

No known challengers in primary.

US Senate #2: James Lankford, announced and currently Congressman from the 5th Congressional District (center of the state, including most of Oklahoma County and all of Seminole and Pottawatomie Counties).

T.W. Shannon, expected to announce next week, currently Speaker of the House, represents the Lawton area (5th largest city in the state).

Jim Bridenstine, widely expected to announce soon, currently Congressman from the 1st Congressional District (Tulsa, Washington, and Wagoner Counties, part of Creek County).

Congressional District #1: At least five potential serious, potentially well funded candidates are waiting to see what Congressman Bridenstine decides.

Congressional District #2: Markwayne Mullin, incumbent

No known challengers in primary.

Congressional District #3: Frank Lucas, incumbent

Robert Hubbard, challenger, current Chairman of the Canadian County Republican Party

Congressional District #4: Tom Cole, incumbent

No known challengers in primary.

Congressional District #5: Patrice Douglas, current Corporation Commissioner (appointed by Governor Fallin 2011, elected without opposition 2012, up for re-election 2014) and former Mayor of Edmond (elected).

Clark Jolley, current State Senator from Edmond area and Chair of State Senate Appropriations Committee (District 41).

Steve Russell, former State Senator from south central Oklahoma City to more area (one term, District 45).

Shane Jett, former State House member from Shawnee (Pottawatomie County, District 27)

New candidate #5 – expect another well funded candidate next week. I am not at liberty to announce for them, but they will be well funded from day one.

For each statewide officeholder, State Senator or State House member that runs for something else, expect a further scramble to fill the “open” seat. Perhaps the biggest impact will be the dilution of available funds and the overwhelming flood of advertising that is about to be unleashed. How many television and radio ads before the public decides to ignore the message? Will anyone be dumb enough to use robo-calling in an attempt to gain voters? Does anyone read the Daily Oklahoman any more (or the Tulsa World)? Will mailboxes be full of literature every day from 10 campaigns?

The 2014 GOP Primary candidates will spend more money with less impact than ever before. The challenge will be to break through the noise.

At the State Senate, State House, and County levels, personal contact will trump all. The funding (unless self funded) is most likely not going to be available to compete with the millions that will be spent at the Congressional and Statewide levels. Any candidate for State House or Senate is wasting their time if they are not going to knock on doors – a LOT of doors. This creates an opportunity for “grassroots” candidates like never before, especially in the State Senate. Twenty-four of the forty-eight State Senate seats are up for election this year, with three term limited and at least one declining to run for re-election. Of course, all of the State House is up for re-election, and in addition to those who are term limited a number of current members are expected to run for other offices.

Get your popcorn!

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