By KIM JARRETT
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Oklahomans are going to the polls to decide who will be on the ballot in several key races, including governor and U.S Senator.
Early voting began Thursday and polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Candidates must receive 50% of the vote plus one to avoid a runoff.
Voters will choose between 13 Republicans who are hoping to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. James Inhofe.
Sen. Inhofe announced in February that he would retire from his post at the end of the year, setting up a special election to fill the remainder of his term that ends in 2027.
The Republican senator endorsed his chief of staff, Luke Holland, to succeed him. Also on the ballot is U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, just the second Republican to represent the state’s 2nd Congressional District since 1923. Rep. Mullin left his post to vie for the GOP nomination for Senate.
State Sen. Nathan Dahm, former state Rep. T.W. Shannon, Scott Pruitt, who served as administrator for the Environmental Protection Administration under President Donald Trump, are on the ballot. Alex Gray, deputy director of the Office of Trade & Manufacturing Policy under Mr. Trump, is also on the ballot
Rounding out the list of candidates are Adam Holley, Jessica Jean Garrison, Laura Moreno, Michael Coibion, Paul Royse, John F. Tompkins and Randy J. Grellner.
No Democrats qualified for the post.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford is also facing two Republican challengers in his quest for another term. Jackson Lahmeyer, an Owasso pastor and Joan Farr, who ran as an independent in 2020, have also qualified. The winner of the primary election will have a Democratic challenger. Arya Azma, Dennis Baker, Jason Bollinger, Jo Glenn, Madison Horn and Brandon Wade are vying for the Democratic nomination.
Gov. Kevin Stitt will face three Republican challengers in his bid for reelection, including one candidate from his administration. Joel Kintsel, the director of the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs, is running against his boss.
Mr. Kintsel describes himself as a “Ronald Reagan conservative” in a news release announcing his candidacy. He described the Stitt administration as “rife with corruption, self-dealing and cronyism and Oklahomans deserve another choice.”
Also challenging Gov. Stitt in the Republican primary is Mark Sherwood, a naturopathic doctor and former Tulsa police officer, and Moira McCabe
On the Democrat side, state school superintendent Joy Hofmeister, who ran for her position as a Republican, has switched parties. She and former state Sen. Connie Johnson are vying to run in the November primary.