Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

Shane Jett is one step closer to being back in the Oklahoma Legislature.

Jett, Cherokee, beat incumbent and two-term state senator Ron Sharp in Tuesday’s Oklahoma primary runoff to represent the Republican Party in November’s general election District 17 race.

Jett received 4,611 votes, or 59 percent, to Sharp’s 3,153 votes, or 41 percent, according to the state Election Board. Jett next faces Libertarian candidate Greg Sadler in the race for a four-year Senate term in a district that includes eastern Oklahoma and northern Pottawatomie counties, in the central part of the state.

Tuesday’s win is not a total surprise. Jett received the most votes in June’s three-person Republican primary to advance to the runoff.

If Jett wins in November, it’ll be 10 years since he served as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He served from 2004 to 2010 before two unsuccessful runs for the 5th Congressional District’s Republican Party nomination in 2010 and 2014.

Jett is a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, and has run his campaign on strengthening the economy, improving schools and roads and government accountability.

Jett joins two other Native candidates vying for state Senate seats in Oklahoma and nine Native candidates seeking a state House seat in the general election. He was the lone Native candidate in Tuesday’s runoff.

Recently, both Jett and Sharp had been in local news reports for matters beyond their campaigns.

Jett’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the Citizen Potawatomi Nation earlier this month was denied by the tribal district court and the tribe’s Supreme Court. Jett accused Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett of firing him because he opposed a proposed mask ordinance at a July Shawnee City Commission meeting.

On Aug. 10, Jett was terminated as CEO of Community Development Corporations at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Jett said he will pursue the case in federal court, according to The Associated Press.

Sharp, a retired teacher and former Vice Chair of the Senate Education Committee, faced an election-related attack by Epic Charter Schools that he called “election fraud,” according to the Tulsa World.

Epic called Sharp a “dishonest and relentless critic of our school” in a recent letter to parents, and reminded them to vote in the primary runoff.

Sharp called the attack payback for Epic’s lost libel and slander lawsuit against him. Epic received a $36,000 bill for Sharp’s legal fees by an Oklahoma County district judge and was ordered to pay Sharp $500,000 in sanctions, according to the report.

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Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.

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