Dalton Walker
Indian Country Today

A Cherokee man is hoping to return to the Oklahoma Legislature by defeating an incumbent state senator in a Republican primary runoff Tuesday.

June’s primary results for Senate District 17, which includes Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties in the central part of the state, reveal that Shane Jett has a path to doing just that.

Jett received 4,580 votes, or 44 percent, of the primary vote on June 30, compared to second-place finisher and incumbent Ron Sharp’s 33 percent. Sharp has held the Senate seat since 2012. A third primary candidate, Brandon Baumgarten, received 22 percent of the vote and has since endorsed Jett.

Jett and Sharpe are in Tuesday’s primary runoff, and the winner will face Libertarian candidate Greg Sadler in the general election.

Jett served six years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, from 2004 to 2010. He ran for the 5th Congressional District in 2010 and 2014, but didn’t capture the party nomination. He’s a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant, and his campaign’s focus is on the economy, agriculture, businesses, schools and veterans.

“I know Oklahoma,” Jett said in his campaign video. “I know the struggles, the ups, the downs, the challenges, the desires, hopes and dreams of Oklahomans. We all want better schools, better roads and a government that is accountable that doesn't waste taxpayer money.”

Jett filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the Citizen Potawatomi Nation earlier this month, alleging that Chairman John "Rocky" Barrett fired him because he opposed a proposed mask ordinance at a July 20 Shawnee City Commission meeting. 

The tribal district court and tribe's Supreme Court both denied Jett's request, The Associated Press reported. Jett said he will pursue the case in federal court. 

Jett was terminated Aug. 10 as CEO of Community Development Corporations at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

Jett appears to be the lone Native candidate in Oklahoma’s runoff races.

U.S. Reps. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, and Tom Cole, Chickasaw Nation, easily won their Republican primaries on June 30. Mullin is facing Democrat and fellow Cherokee citizen Danyell Lanier in the general election.

At least nine Native candidates are in the general election for state House seats. If Jett captures his party’s ticket, he’ll join two other Native candidates vying for state Senate seats.

The Associated Press contributed to this 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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