An Indigenous candidate will represent the Republican party in November for Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate special election but voters won’t know who it is until the special election runoff.
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, and T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, finished first and second in the Senate race on Tuesday and advanced to the runoff election on Aug. 23. Neither received the required 50 percent of the vote, which means there will be a runoff election. The winner will face Democrat Kendra Horn in November, who did not have a primary opponent.
With Oklahoma being a heavily Republican state, the Mullin and Shannon winner likely will be the first Native person in the U.S. Senate since Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Northern Cheyenne, retired in 2005 from Colorado.
Mullin held a primary watch party in Tulsa and livestreamed it on his Facebook page.
“The fights in the Senate,” he said. “We can't sit back and watch this wave of socialism try to take over this country. If Washington acted like Oklahoma we'd be in better shape.”
Mullin and Shannon were two of six Indigenous candidates running for high-profile offices in Oklahoma: governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. House.
Republicans Guy Barker, Quapaw and Osage, and Wes Nofire, Cherokee, ran for congressional district 2, Mullin’s House seat. Barker came in fifth and Nofire finished seventh, according to unofficial results.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, Chickasaw, won his Republican primary for reelection to Congressional district 4. He has been reelected the last two decades, and is expected to win again in November. Cole will face Democrat Mary Brannon in the general election.
Gov. Kevin Stitt, Cherokee, easily won the GOP primary in his race for reelection, taking advantage of a massive fundraising edge to dispatch three fellow Republicans.
Stitt’s feuds with fellow Republicans in the Legislature and with many 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.
Oklahoma’s Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, a lifelong Republican who switched parties last year, won the Democratic nomination. Independent Ervin Yen, an Oklahoma City anesthesiologist and former state senator, and Libertarian Natalie Bruno of Edmond also will be on the November ballot for governor.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford won his GOP primary outright in his race for reelection.
Mullin and Shannon faced off in a crowded Republican primary for Oklahoma’s second U.S. Senate seat. Jim Inhofe, who has held that seat for nearly three decades, announced his retirement in January. The person elected in November will finish out his term which ends in January 2027.
Donald Trump's former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, who resigned from his Washington post under a cloud of ethics scandals, finished fifth in the race, according to unofficial results.
Of the 10 Native incumbents in the state Legislature, eight ran unopposed in their respective primaries. Mark McBride, Citizen Potawatomi, won his House primary in district 53, and Ken Luttrell, Cherokee, won his House primary in district 37, according to unofficial results.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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