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Stories about Oklahoma

Oklahoma school board elections see lowest unopposed rate in eight-year cycle

In 2021, 48.6% of Oklahoma school board races covered by Ballotpedia will not be on the ballot due to lack of opposition, which is the lowest unopposed rate since Ballotpedia began tracking this figure in 2014. Thirty-five seats are up for election across 26 school districts included in Ballotpedia’s comprehensive coverage in 2021. Candidates ran unopposed in 17 of those races.

Across eight years of tracking, the highest unopposed rate for Oklahoma school board elections occurred in 2015, when 85.7% of races had an unopposed candidate. Below is a list of unopposed rates from 2014 to 2021.

  • 2021: 48.6%
  • 2020: 62.1%
  • 2019: 53.3%
  • 2018: 76.7%
  • 2017: 52.9%
  • 2016: 80.0%
  • 2015: 85.7%
  • 2014: 62.5%

The general election for races that do have opposition is scheduled for April 6. For races that had more than two candidates file, the primary election was held on Feb. 9. Candidates were able to win the election outright if they earned more than 50% of the vote in the primary.

The following districts will hold a general election on April 6:

  • Banner School District
  • Crooked Oak Public Schools
  • Deer Creek Public Schools
  • Edmond Public Schools
  • Midwest City-Del City Schools
  • Mustang Public Schools
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools
  • Owasso Public Schools
  • Piedmont Public Schools
  • Putnam City Schools
  • Tulsa Public Schools
  • Union Public Schools
  • Western Heights Public Schools
  • Yukon Public Schools

These fourteen school districts served a total of 190,878 students during the 2016-17 school year.

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Oklahoma voters decide school board primary elections

Primaries for school board elections were held in Oklahoma on February 9. Ballotpedia is covering elections for 35 seats across 27 Oklahoma school boards in 2021. These 27 school districts served a combined total of 261,543 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

Seventeen seats were won outright by unopposed candidates. There were 13 seats where two candidates automatically advanced from the primary to the general election on April 6. The remaining five seats held primaries between three or more candidates. Elections can be won outright in the primary if a candidate receives more than 50% of the vote.

  • In the Edmond Public School District, Margaret Best and incumbent Lee Ann Kuhlman advanced to the general election for the District 1 seat. Best and Kuhlman earned 34% and 27% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Oklahoma City Public School District, Charles Henry and incumbent Paula Lewis advanced to the general election for the chairperson seat. Henry and Lewis earned 48% and 44% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Owasso Public School District, Stephanie Ruttman and Rick Lang advanced to the general election for the Ward 1 seat. Ruttman and Lang earned 31% and 24% of the vote, respectively.
  • In the Putnam City Public School District, Judy Mullen Hopper won outright in the primary for Seat 3. Hopper earned 66% of the vote against two other candidates including incumbent Sky Collins.
  • In the Tulsa Public School District, Judith Barba won outright in the primary for Seat 2. Barba earned 53% of the vote against two other candidates.

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Oklahoma Supreme Court rules that Gov. Stitt overstepped his authority in negotiating two gaming compacts without legislative approval

On January 26, 2021, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued an opinion in Treat v. Stitt, a case regarding the governor’s power to renegotiate state gaming compacts. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Speaker of the House Charles McCall (R) and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R) who argued that Governor Kevin Stitt (R) overstepped his constitutional authority when he renegotiated the terms for the gaming contracts with the Kialegee Tribal Town and the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians. The gaming contracts at issue were enacted under the State-Tribal Gaming Act, which voters approved through State Question 712 in 2004. 

Justice James Winchester wrote the opinion for the court. Chief Justice Richard Darby joined Justice Winchester, as did substitute Justice John Reif. Justice Yvonne Kauger wrote a separate concurring opinion and was joined by Justices Douglas Combs, Noma Gurich. Justice Dustin Rowe concurred in the result only. Justice M. John Kane IV wrote a dissenting opinion. Justices James Edmondson and Tom Colbert recused themselves. 

Writing for the majority, Justice Winchester said “The Legislature has not authorized the Governor to bind the state with regard to tribal compacts… the compact executed by the Governor contravened state law. The Governor’s powers are limited by the Constitution. The Governor may exercise only the specific power granted. The Governor’s attempt to exceed this authority results in the actions being rendered wholly ineffectual and invalid.”

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Kane said he would dismiss the case for lack of indispensable parties, The Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribes, who also have gaming contracts with the state. 

Gov. Stitt said that he will not appeal the court’s decision. On January 27, 2021, he issued a statement that said he plans to work with a joint legislative committee to review the gambling compacts. 

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Oklahoma school board candidates vie for 33 seats in 2021

On December 9, 2020, the filing deadline passed to run for 33 school board seats across 26 school districts covered by Ballotpedia in Oklahoma. Of the 58 candidates who filed in these school board races, 24 are incumbents seeking re-election to their seats. 

The primary is scheduled for February 9, 2021, and the general election is scheduled for April 6, 2021. In Oklahoma, school districts cancel primary elections if fewer than three candidates file to run for each seat up for election, and the candidates automatically advance to the general election. Both the primary and general elections are canceled if only one candidate files for a seat up for election, and the unopposed candidate is automatically elected. 

The largest school district covered by Ballotpedia and holding elections in Oklahoma in 2021 is Oklahoma City Public Schools. The district served 39,806 students during the 2016-2017 school year.

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Six candidates file to run in Oklahoma State Senate special election

Candidates interested in running in a special election for a seat in the Oklahoma State Senate had until December 9, 2020, to file. The primary is scheduled for February 9, 2021, and the special election will be held on April 6.

In the District 22 special election, Dylan Billings and Molly Ooten are running in the Democratic primary. Former state legislator Rob Johnson, Darrick Matthews, Jake Merrick, and Keri Shipley are running in the Republican primary.

The special election became necessary after Stephanie Bice (R) was elected to represent Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District on November 3, 2020. Her resignation is effective on December 31, 2020. Bice was elected to the state Senate in 2014. She won re-election in 2018 with 68.3% of the vote.

Oklahoma has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. Republicans control the state Senate by a 39-9 margin and the state House by an 82-19 margin.

As of December 2020, four state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2021 in three states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Oklahoma voters defeat both statewide ballot measures on the November ballot

Oklahoma voters defeated State Question 805 by a vote of 61% to 39%, thereby maintaining current law that a person convicted of a non-violent felony can receive longer sentences based on past felony convictions.

Voters also defeated State Question 814, by a vote of 59% to 41%. If passed, 814 would have decreased the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust’s funds and would have appropriated money to the state’s Medicaid program.

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Oklahoma holds primary runoff: Eight state legislative seats on the ballot, three incumbents defeated

The statewide primary runoff for Oklahoma was held on August 27, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3. A primary was held on June 30. In races where no candidate received a majority of the vote (50% plus one vote), the top two vote-getters advanced to the primary runoff.

Eight seats in the state legislature were on the primary runoff ballot; five in the Oklahoma State Senate and three in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. All eight races were Republican primary runoffs.

A total of 24 out of 48 seats in the Oklahoma State Senate are up for election in 2020. Fourteen contested partisan races were on the primary ballot. Districts 5, 7, 17, 35, and 43 advanced to the primary runoff, roughly 36% of contested state Senate primary races. Three of the five state Senate primary runoffs featured incumbents, all of whom were defeated. The remaining two primary runoffs were for open seats.

All 101 seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives are up for election in 2020. Thirty-nine contested partisan races were on the primary ballot. Districts 71, 79, and 96 advanced to the primary runoff, roughly 8% of contested state House primary races. No state House primary runoffs featured incumbents in either the primary or the primary runoff.

Oklahoma has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Bice defeats Neese to win Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District

Stephanie Bice defeated Terry Neese to win the Republican nomination in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District on August 25. As of 9:45 p.m. Central Time on election night, Bice had 53% of the vote to Neese’s 47%. The two advanced to a runoff after no candidate won a majority of the vote in the June 30 primary. Neese led in the primary with 36.5% to Bice’s 25.4%.

Bice, a state senator whose endorsers included former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), said she would be the more effective legislator. Neese, a business owner and the national co-chairwoman of President Trump’s small business advisory council, said she would be the stronger ally to the president.

Incumbent Kendra Horn (D), who was first elected in 2018, advanced from the Democratic primary with 86% of the vote. Election forecasters say the general election between Horn and Bice is a toss-up.

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Neese, Bice to compete in Republican primary runoff in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District August 25

Image of a red sign with the words "Polling Place" a pointing arrow.

Terry Neese and Stephanie Bice will compete in the Republican primary runoff in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District on Tuesday, August 25. The two advanced to a runoff when no candidate won 50% of the vote in the June 30 primary. Neese won 36.5% and Bice won 25.4% in the primary.

David Hill, who finished third in the primary with 19% of the vote, endorsed Neese on July 14 saying, “Terry Neese is a pro-life, pro-gun, conservative, and she has our full support as she fights to beat Kendra Horn and deliver President Trump’s agenda.”

Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) endorsed Bice on August 6, saying, Stephanie is a proven conservative who is committed to defending our Second Amendment rights, protecting the unborn, and standing up for Oklahoma’s taxpayers.”

Incumbent Kendra Horn (D) is running for re-election. In 2018, she defeated incumbent Steve Russell (R) by a margin of 1.4 percentage points to become the first Democrat to hold the office since 1975. Oklahoma’s 5th is one of the 31 Democratic-held House districts that President Donald Trump (R) won in 2016, with Trump defeating Hillary Clinton (D) by a margin of 13.4 percentage points.

In February 2019, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee identified Oklahoma’s 5th as a Frontline district and the Republican National Congressional Committee identified the district as an offensive target for the 2020 election cycle.



Oklahoma to hold primary runoffs on August 25

Oklahoma’s statewide primary runoff is scheduled for August 25, 2020. Tulsa’s general election is scheduled for the same day.

Oklahoma’s statewide primary was on June 30, 2020. If no candidate received a majority of the vote in the primary, the top two vote-getters advanced to the primary runoff. The runoff winners will advance to the general election on November 3, 2020. The filing deadline passed on April 10.

There are no Democratic primary runoffs on the ballot. Republican candidates are competing in primary runoffs for the following offices:
Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District
Oklahoma State Senate Districts 5, 7, 17, 35, and 43
Oklahoma House of Representatives Districts 71, 79, and 96
Cleveland County Sheriff

Oklahoma County Sheriff

Meanwhile, candidates in Tulsa are competing in general elections for mayor and Districts 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 on the city council. A general runoff election, if necessary, is scheduled for November 3, 2020. No primary election was held for these races. The filing deadline passed on June 10, 2020.

Tulsa is the second-largest city in Oklahoma and the 47th largest city in the U.S. by population.

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