Candidate filings are closed, all challenges and withdrawals of candidacy have been completed and as it stands, the Libertarian Party will have the only statewide primary. Two Libertarians filed to run for US Senate and both stuck it out through the withdrawal and challenge phase. Libertarians Dax Ewbank and Robert Murphy will be vying for the Libertarian nomination to run against Incumbent Republican James Lankford and Democratic candidate Mike Workman. Edit: Also running for US Senate are Independents Sean Braddy and Mark Beard.
The Democratic Party almost had a statewide primary, but candidate Steve Perry withdrew his candidacy.
This means that all Libertarian and Independent voters throughout the state will be able to cast a vote in a primary election on June 28. While there will be some Democratic Primaries around the state that independents will be allowed to vote in, they will be sparse and only cover portions of the state.
All told, there are a total of 16 Libertarian candidates. One candidate Frank Robinson had his filing rejected due to non-payment of the fee and no petition. Robinson claims indigent status and will fight the refusal in court. Robinson would have filed to run for US Representative District 3. Another candidate, Paul Brewbaker had his filing challenged by Incumbent Republican Roger Ford of OK House District 95. Brewbaker, unable to pay the $250 bond to fight the challenge, lost. He will not appear on the November ballot.
15 of those 16 Libertarian Candidates will appear on the November ballot. Additionally, 20 Independents filed to run for office, more than has filed in over 10 years.
Earlier this year, the Oklahoma Democratic Party informed the State Election Board that it will allow Independent voters to vote in its 2016 and 2017 primaries. The Libertarian and Green parties also stated intent to allow Independents to vote in their potential primaries if they got on the ballot. This left the Republican Party as the lone hold out.
The Republican Party has now made it official. Their’s will be the only primaries in which Independents will not be allowed to vote. They provided an official statement to the State Election Board stating as much.
The state GOP made it official Tuesday in a letter to the state’s Election Board secretary.
Party chairman Pam Pollard said the party believed that only Republicans should pick Republican candidates.
As we enter the coming election year, we will see how these choices will impact the election in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma currently operates under a closed primary system. In this system, only members of a qualified party can vote in that party’s primary, unless that party allows for Independent voters to vote in it. Under this system, many elections are barred from a majority of voters because only a single party has candidates running for office. In the 2012 election, there were sixteen House and four Senate seats whose only opposition was in the primary election.
This will change for the better if legislation introduced this year passes and is signed into law.
Representative Jeannie McDaniel, Democrat District 78, has introduced HB2551 and Senator Larry Boggs, Republican District 7, has introduced SB1578. Both bills open up primary elections to members of other parties and to Independent voters if the only candidates for a seat are on a single party’s primary ballot.
If a recognized political party has two or more nominees for an office, no other recognized political party has a nominee for the office, and no person registered as an Independent pursuant to Section 4-112 of this title is a candidate for the office, all registered voters eligible to vote for that office, regardless of whether the voters are registered as members of the recognized political party having candidates for the office, are registered as members of another recognized political party, or are registered as Independents, shall be allowed to vote in the Primary Election and, if a Runoff Primary Election is necessary, in the Runoff Primary Election.
This is a great step in the direction of ensuring that Oklahoma’s elections are fair and open to all voters. We will be watching the progress of these bills very carefully this election.