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Pauly Denetclaw
ICT

11:30 p.m. EDT

Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, and T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, advanced to the primary runoff election for the U.S. Senate in Oklahoma, per AP. It guarantees an Indigenous candidate will represent the Republican party in the general election in November, with the winner facing Democrat Kendra Horn, who did not have an opponent in the primary.

(Related: Indigenous candidates head to US Senate runoff)

In the race for the U.S. House Oklahoma District 4, Incumbent Republican Tom Cole will face Democrat Mary Brannon in the general election. After Democratic candidate Richard Grayson withdrew from the race, Brannon advanced to the general election.

In the U.S. House district 2 race, Guy Barker, Quapaw and Osage, is in 5th place with 11 percent of the vote, while Wes Nofire, Cherokee, trails even farther behind at 7th place with 6 percent. 

10:15 p.m. EDT

In the race for the unexpired Senate term – after Sen. Jim Inhofe’s retirement – Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, reportedly has 45 percent of the vote with 1743 precincts reporting out of 1984. In that same race, T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, is trailing in second place with ​​17 percent of the vote.

If neither candidate garners at least 50 percent of the votes, there will be a runoff election in August.

A reelection bid by the U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, in district 4 garnered 70 percent of the vote with 348 precincts reporting out of 362. Cole has been reelected the last two decades

In the U.S. representative district 2 race, Guy Barker, Quapaw and Osage, is in 4th place with 11 percent of the vote, while Wes Nofire, Cherokee, trails even farther behind at 6th place with 6 percent. 

9 p.m. EDT

Polls in Oklahoma closed an hour ago, and the AP has already declared the state's Cherokee governor winner of the Republican primary.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, Cherokee, easily won the GOP primary on Tuesday in his race for reelection, taking advantage of a massive fundraising edge to dispatch three fellow Republicans, according to the AP.

Stitt's feuds with fellow Republicans in the Legislature and with many Oklahoma-based tribes didn't seem to bother GOP primary voters, although the strained relationship with tribes, which have grown more powerful with an influx of casino revenue in recent decades, likely will be a factor in November's general election.

Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, has an early lead in the Senate race. With 391 precincts reporting, out of 1984, he is ahead with 45 percent of the vote. T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, is second with 17 percent.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, is also ahead with 70 percent for his reelection bid with 81 of 362 precincts reporting. 

EARLIER

Tuesday is the Oklahoma primary, a big day for 18 Indigenous candidates on the ballot. The highest number of Indigenous candidates the state has seen in an election cycle.

Here’s the breakdown.

There are six Indigenous candidates running for high-profile offices: governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House. On the state legislature side, only two of the 12 Indigenous candidates running for state office are facing opponents. Most of the state candidates are likely to move forward to the general election.

Nearly all of the Indigenous candidates are Republicans. Only one, Ajay Pittman, Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, is a Democratic candidate.

Gov. Kevin Stitt, Cherokee, is running for reelection. He is a likely favorite. He is running against three others in the Republican primary. If elected he would face three others in the general election, a Libertarian, Democratic and Independent candidates.

Tom Cole, Chickasaw, is running for reelection to congressional district 4. T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, and Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, are running for the special election Senate seat. Guy Barker, Quapaw and Osage, and Wes Nofire, Cherokee, are running for congressional district 2, Mullin’s old seat.

Mullin and Shannon face off in a crowded Republican primary for the special election for the Senate seat. Congressman Jim Inhofe, who has held that seat for nearly three decades, announced his retirement in January to spend time with his family. The person elected will finish out his term which ends in January 2027. Both are favored as the top two candidates. If neither candidate garners at least 50 percent of the votes, there will be a runoff election in August. This is likely to happen.

Tom Cole, who has been reelected the last two decades, is expected to easily win again.

OKLAHOMA INDIGENOUS CANDIDATES

Governor

  • Kevin Stitt, Cherokee, Republican - WON

Congress

  • Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, Republican (U.S. Senate) - RUNOFF
  • T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, Republican (U.S. Senate) - RUNOFF
  • Tom Cole, Chickasaw, Republican (U.S. House, District 4) - WON
  • Guy Barker, Republican (U.S. House, District 2) - LOST
  • Wes Nofire, Republican (U.S. House, District 2) - LOST

State

  • Ajay Pittman, Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma, Democrat (State House, District 99)
  • Brad Boles, Cherokee, Republican (State House, District 51)
  • Ken Luttrell, Cherokee, Republican (State House, District 37) - WON
  • Mike Osburn, Cherokee, Republican (State House, District 81)
  • John Pfieffer, Cherokee, Republican (State House, District 38)
  • Mark Vancuren, Cherokee, Republican (State House, District 74)
  • David Hardin, Cherokee, Republican (State House, District 86)
  • Hurchel “Trey” Caldwell, Choctaw, Republican (State House, District 63)
  • Scott Fetgatter, Choctaw, Republican (State House, District 16)
  • Avery Frix, Choctaw, Republican (State House, District 13)
  • Dustin Roberts, Choctaw, Republican (State House, District 21)
  • Mark McBride, Citizen Potawatomi, Republican (State House, District 53) - WON

(Related: Indigenous candidates in the 2022 midterms

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Oklahoma’s 2nd congressional district is packed. The Republican primary has 14 candidates running for Mullin’s old seat. Two of them are Indigenous.

Guy Barker, Quapaw and Osage, is the secretary-treasurer of the Quapaw Nation. He was elected in 2020. Earlier this year, he was recognized by Native American Finance Officers Association as “Tribal Executive of the Year.” Barker helped to refinance his nation’s two casino properties, saving the tribe millions over the next decade. He is a small business owner, petroleum engineer and has a law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law. He manages his tribe’s multibillion dollar assets portfolio that is spread across 16 different industries and employs over 3,500 people in four different states.

He decided to run because he was concerned about the current issues facing the nation and believes with his diversity of experience he can help address them in Congress.

“We're seeing some things, particularly in the US economy and Eastern Oklahoma that have really unsettled people. Whether it's from our national debt or our energy independence or the spending rate that our US economy has been able to see. All of this is creating a generational, inflationary effect that really affects all of us,” Barker told ICT.

(Related: Oklahoma’s abortion bill & Indigenous impact)

The economy and inflation are the two biggest issues he is focusing on. He also has other important issues as part of his campaign.

“Another big reason would be to advocate on behalf of Indian Country. That's been an interesting tug of war the last couple of years in Oklahoma. We need more Native American advocates, not only here in Oklahoma, but also in Congress.”

This election cycle one of the big issues in Oklahoma is the McGirt decision and ironing out the folds from that decision. Barker believes that his unique background has given him the tools to be an effective mediator between tribal nations and state officials.

“It's maybe the most complex legal issue facing us in Oklahoma history and I'm the only one with the law degree actually running in my race. So, I feel kind of uniquely qualified to be able to walk us along that tight rope,” he said.

As a tribal leader, Barker said he is ready to be that advocate for not only Indigenous nations that reside in eastern Oklahoma but nationally.

Barker calls himself an eighth generation Oklahoman. His family has resided in the state since 1830, after forced removal from their traditional homelands.

“I care very much about Oklahoman culture. The cooperative relationship that has now kind of blossomed into this Indian Country, statehood tapestry that we have here in Oklahoma. It's what makes us unique and it's something that's worth preserving,” Barker said.

Before running, Barker reached out to Mullin, who currently holds the seat and is making a bid for Senate, about running.

“He was encouraging. He said that we could use you up here and he wished me the best of luck,” Barker said.

Barker is a conservative candidate who supports the typical Republican platform of more oil and gas leases, protecting second amendment rights, family values, against abortion care, supporting law and order and securing the border.

“My resume certainly sets me apart. I think everybody has a lot of the same policy positions. It's very difficult to tell the difference between candidates in this race. But my principal professional background is in the oil and gas industry, and we're seeing an obviously very, very turbulent time right now when it comes to energy independence within the US,” Barker said.

Cherokee councilman, Wes Nofire definitely has a similar platform to Barker. However, Nofire is running for a different reason. As the father of three children, he’s concerned about the country that they will inherit. This spurred him to throw his name in the race.

“It goes back to just being a kid growing up and the freedoms that I had, the opportunity that was given to me by my parents and we had so much availability to do things when we aspired to live out our dreams and right now, the way the country's going and the direction that it's headed, I fear for my kids and what kind of country they're going to inherit,” Nofire told ICT. “With the opportunity and the background that I have when it presented itself to try to make that difference, that's why we decided to run.”

Previously, Nofire was a nationally ranked boxer. From there he started his own management and promotional boxing company.

“There were a lot of times that I didn't even receive a paycheck but I made sure that I was able to take care of those young athletes who were fighting for us and who were looking to pursue that lifestyle,” he said.

Owning his own company inspired him to run for tribal council after seeing “obvious signs of corruption.” He was elected three years ago.

Fighting for financial transparency and individual Indian citizenship rights,” he said about his time.

FOLLOW ICT’s 2022 MIDTERM ELECTION COVERAGE: #NativeVote22

Nofire also talked about the McGirt decision and how as a tribal councilman for the largest Indigenous nation in the country, he has the capability to lead these conversations.

“There's nobody that's running for Congress that has that capability of being able to find solutions to some of the problems and obstacles that's arisen out of that,” he said. “We've worked with tribal leaders and state leaders to already start a path to finding that solution, getting everybody back to the table to solve that issue.”

The other issue he’s passionate about hits very close to home. Nofire lost his mother to suicide 12 years. So mental and behavioral health is an important issue to him and his family. Currently, Nofire co-owns a mental health and rehabilitation company with his sister. They inherited the company from their parents.

With the recent string of mass shootings, Nofire thinks there needs to be a bigger focus on mental health services in order to protect second amendment rights.

“If we're going to protect that freedom, we have to look at our mental health state within society and how we can address that and start solving that issue,” Norfire said, who expressed his support for Trump in a June radio interview.

The winner of the republican primary is likely to win in the general election.

This story will be updated throughout the night.

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