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Pauly Denetclaw
Carina Dominguez

August 24, 2022, at 4 p.m. EDT

In a crisp, white shirt, Markwayne Mullin addressed the crowd at his watch party held at the Stokely Event Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma Tuesday night. Surrounded by his family, he thanked the boots-on-the-ground volunteers who worked for his campaign, knocking on doors, to help get him elected.

Mullin is one step closer to being the fifth Indigenous person ever elected to the U.S. Senate. He now heads to November’s general election as the favorite. He won Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff for one of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate seats, making him a likely favorite in the known conservative state to win the seat U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is leaving early after nearly 30 years in office. An Indigenous person hasn’t been in the Senate since 2005.

“I just want to tell everybody we couldn't do this without you,” Mullin said. “In fact, I feel guilty when you guys are walking up to me and tell me, congratulations, because so many in this room, and so many that didn't get to make it here tonight, you guys spent countless hours volunteering for us, knocking doors, supporting us financially, posting on social media. None of this is possible without you guys.”

Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, defeated former Speaker of the Oklahoma House and banking executive T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, after the two advanced from a 13-candidate Republican primary field in June. Because Inhofe is retiring early, Mullin will serve the remaining four years left on Inhofe’s term. Mullin got 66.4 percent of the votes and Shannon got the remaining 33.6 percent.

“Thank you for giving our family this opportunity,” Mullin, 45, said at a watch party in Tulsa, surrounded by his wife and six children. “It’s not just me you’re electing. It’s a family affair.”

Mullin, who topped the primary field with nearly 44 percent of the vote, earned former President Donald Trump’s endorsement shortly after the primary.

Mullin and Shannon were both seeking to replace Inhofe, a fixture in Republican politics in Oklahoma since the 1960s who has held the U.S. Senate seat since being elected in 1994.

8:40 p.m. CT, Aug. 23

In the Oklahoma republican primary runoff, Cherokee Nation citizen U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin seemed the likely winner Tuesday’s GOP nomination for Oklahoma’s unexpired U.S. Senate seat.

According to election results released at about 8:30 p.m. central time, Mullin had received nearly 66 percent of the vote, while his opponent T.W. Shannon received 34 percent. Mullin is likely to win the seat of the U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe following his retirement after nearly 30 years in office in November's general election. 

Shannon, Chickasaw, is the former speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Mullin and Shannon had beat 11 other candidates but neither secured more than 50 percent of the votes to avoid a run-off election.

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Mullin will be heavily favored in November’s general election against former Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, along with an independent and a Libertarian. Oklahoma hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in more than 30 years.

In a state where nearly 10 percent of the population identifies as American Indian, both Mullin and Shannon are members of Native American tribes — Mullin a Cherokee citizen and Shannon, who is also African American, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

Two Indigenous candidates are facing each other in a race for the Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s special election for a U.S. Senate seat.

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, Cherokee, and former speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, T.W. Shannon, Chickasaw, were the top two candidates in the Republican primary. They beat 11 other candidates but neither secured more than 50 percent of the votes to avoid a run-off election.

This means an Indigenous candidate will head to the general election and, in November, will face Democrat Kendra Horn, who did not have a primary opponent. It is highly likely that the Republican nominee will win at the general election. FiveThirtyEight has forecasted that Mullin will win with 63 percent of the votes.

In the primary election, Mullin led with 43.7 percent of the votes, while Shannon had about 17.5 percent. There hasn’t been an Indigenous person in the Senate since 2005 when Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Northern Cheyenne, retired. He served for over a decade. There have only been four Native Americans who have served in the Senate.

The seat opened when 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.

The other elections happening today are in New York and Florida.

Mullin is running on a Christian, family-first, conservative platform. He also draws on his background as a former MMA fighter saying that he will fight for Oklahomans in Congress. He is 100 percent pro-life and has a lifetime membership to the National Rifle Association. He does have a Trump endorsement going into the runoff election.

He is also a rancher and small business owners. Mullin believes his background in these areas gives him a better understanding of the issues that many Oklahomans face.

While Shannon boasts that he supports Trump. Mullin ultimately grabbed a Trump endorsement just in time for the primary election in June. Both have been attacking each other as being career politicians and not representing the everyday person. Although both have been in elected positions for a decade or more.

Shannon, CEO of the Chickasaw Community Bank, stands on an America First platform, which ultimately supports Trump’s former policy agenda. He believes life starts at conception and is pro-life. He believes in capitalism and second amendment rights.

Both candidates are running on similar America First platforms and have both served in elected positions for some 10 years. This race will ultimately come down to voter turnout. Shannon has been all over Oklahoma campaigning for votes. Mullin outraised Shannon by over a million dollars. More campaign dollars often lead to more votes.

The polls are open until 7 p.m. CDT and voting information can be found here.

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