As the summer heats up across the country, so do primary races. On Tuesday, five states are holding primary elections ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
In Oklahoma, there are 10 Native incumbents in the state legislators seeking reelection. Of the 10, eight are running unopposed in their respective primaries and two facing one opponent each.
Republican state House Rep. Ken Luttrell, Cherokee, is looking to retain his seat against Joe Vaden Jr. and fellow Republican state House Rep. Mark McBride, Citizen Potawatomi, is running against Kathren Stehno.
The Republican candidates running unopposed and looking ahead to the general election in November include: Brad Boles, Cherokee; Hurchel (Trey) Caldwell, Choctaw; Scott Fetgatter, Choctaw; Mike Osburn, Cherokee; John Pfeiffer, Cherokee; Mark Vancuren; Cherokee and David Hardin, Cherokee.
The lone incumbent Native Democrat running unopposed is Ajay Pittman, Seminole.
McBride is seeking a sixth consecutive and final term serving state house district 53.
One of the top issues he said he has campaigned on is education. The state passed a pay raise for teachers four years ago and McBride said the state legislature will likely be working to pass something similar again.
Additionally on the education front, some legislation he hopes to introduce and get passed is maternity leave for teachers.
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“Teachers don't have maternity leave. I mean, why not?” McBride said. “You know, they have to take part of their sick leave.”
Throughout the legislative session, he keeps a running list of ideas for bills he would like to introduce.
Outside of education, issues that are high on his priority list include making his district business friendly, improving public services like the fire and police departments and oil and gas.
In recent years, Oklahoma Gov.Kevin Stitt, Cherokee, has had a strained relationship with tribes in the state but McBride said he has had a good working relationship with Oklahoma tribes.
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McBride admitted that he didn’t realize the full scope of contributions tribes bring to the state but acknowledged he’s learned a lot since becoming a legislator and becoming an advocate in the state house.
“I would say I'm more supportive of tribal issues now than then I've ever been,” he said.