oklahoma primary 2022 candidates
The 2022 Oklahoma primary elections were held on June 28th to determine party nominees for various federal, statewide, and local offices in the November general election. Oklahoma has closed Republican primaries, meaning only registered Republicans can vote, while Democrats allow unaffiliated voters to participate. With control of the governorship and legislature at stake, the primaries shaped up to be highly competitive and consequential for the future direction of the red state.
Overview of Oklahoma Primaries
Closed vs Open Primaries
Oklahoma has a hybrid primary system, with Republicans conducting closed primaries while Democrats hold semi-closed contests. This structure allows registered Republicans to choose GOP candidates while still permitting unaffiliated voters to have a say in Democratic races. Third parties nominate candidates via convention.
Key Races and Offices
Both federal and state level positions were on the primary ballot, ranging from US Senate and House seats to the Governor’s mansion and control of the state legislature. There were also primaries for statewide executive offices like Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Turnout reached around 27% for the Republican primary, a bit lower than previous midterm cycles. Democratic turnout lagged further behind. Experts attributed lower engagement to reduced Democratic competition and lingering voter fatigue from the 2020 election cycle.
US Senate Race
Incumbent Republican Senator James Lankford faced a spirited primary challenge from newcomer Jackson Lahmeyer, who attacked Lankford for not endorsing Trump’s false election fraud claims vigorously enough. Joan Farr also competed for the GOP nomination. Lankford prevailed easily, garnering over 66% of the vote.
US House Races
All 5 of Oklahoma’s House districts held contested GOP primaries, although only one seat was open following incumbent Markwayne Mullin’s Senate run. There were no contested Democratic primaries, underscoring the Republican dominance across the state. Several far-right contenders posed spirited but unsuccessful challenges.
Analysis of Competitiveness
Federal races saw 40% contested primaries overall, a fairly typical level for recent cycles. However, no US House Democratic primaries were contested this year, reflecting the party’s diminished competitiveness in the state. Incumbents still faced reasonably competitive primaries.
Governor & Lt. Governor
Incumbent Kevin Stitt cruised to renomination for Governor, fending off underdog challenger Moira McCabe. Stitt now faces Democrat Joy Hofmeister in November. The Lt. Governor Republican primary was more crowded, with Matt Pinnell beating several other candidates.
Appointed incumbent AG John O’Connor, who filled the seat after Mike Hunter’s resignation, competed against Gentner Drummond and Kimberly Thomas for the Republican nod. O’Connor prevailed with over 50% of the primary vote.
Other Executive Offices
Contested GOP primaries shaped up for State Treasurer, State Auditor, Labor Commissioner, and Corporation Commissioner. Runoff elections were needed to settle some races, like Corporation Commissioner.
Down ballot, only 19.6% of State House and Senate districts had contested Republican primaries. GOP control of the chambers is not in jeopardy for now.
Incumbents Facing Challenges
Several Republican elected officials contended with spirited contests, including US Senator Lankford, Governor Stitt, and Attorney General O’Connor. But all prevailed. More incumbents seemed to get by easily compared to prior years.
Open Seat Races
The open 2nd Congressional district attracted 14 GOP candidates and Tulsa’s State Senate District 35 also saw a packed field with 9 Republicans running. These open seats created some of the liveliest primaries.
Celebrities and Outsiders
No major celebrity or political outsiders stirred up Oklahoma’s primaries this cycle. Races were mostly dominated by established GOP elected officials and functionaries.
Key Issues and Campaign Themes
Economy and Jobs
Pocketbook issues like inflation, government spending, taxes, and unemployment motivated many Oklahoma primary voters. Fiscal conservative messaging prevailed.
Debates over COVID-19 restrictions in schools, curriculum issues like critical race theory, and education funding played a role across multiple campaigns.
Energy and Environment
Fossil fuel policy contributed to US Senate and US House primaries. Support for Oklahoma’s oil and gas industry was a vital position for GOP contenders.
Medicaid expansion and women’s health, including abortion access, saw some discussion. Most Republicans campaigned to limit government healthcare programs.
Registration and ID Requirements
Oklahoma has a 25 day registration deadline. Valid voter ID is required at the polls. Check your status at the State Election Board website.
Absentee and Early Voting
All voters are eligible for absentee ballots. Applications must be received by the 3rd Monday before Election Day. In-person early voting starts the Thursday before an election.
Poll Times and Locations
Polls are open 7 AM to 7 PM statewide on Election Day. Use the State Election Board’s website to find your polling place.
Oklahoma’s 2022 primaries set the stage for a consequential general election. Republicans will be defending their trifecta control of state government against Democratic challenges. The GOP also looks to hold federal seats in a midterm environment expected to favor them. With mostly established candidates nominated, November will prove if Oklahoma indeed remains a conservative stronghold.
Who won the Oklahoma Republican US Senate primary?
Incumbent James Lankford won re-nomination, defeating Jackson Lahmeyer and Joan Farr.
How many Oklahoma US House seats had contested GOP primaries?
All 5 districts had contested Republican primaries this year.
Did Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt face a primary challenger?
Yes, Stitt beat challenger Moira McCabe handily to secure the GOP nomination.
What was voter turnout like in the primaries?
Around 27% for Republicans and lower for Democrats, down from previous midterms.
Were there any celebrity or outsider candidates?
No major celebrity or political outsiders competed in the primaries this cycle.