In The Know: Early voting suggests turnout could be bigger than 2016 presidential primaries

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

In The News

Early Voting Suggests Turnout Could Be Bigger Than 2016 Presidential Primaries: Tulsa County Election Board officials said Monday that early in-person voting and absentee ballot requests suggest turnout for the primary elections that conclude Tuesday could top 50 percent. That translates into about 170,000 votes, or nearly three times as many as in the 2014 statewide primary and more than even the 2016 presidential primary [Tulsa World]. Visit our State Questions & Elections page for links to helpful information, resources, and deadlines [OKPolicy].

More Oklahoma Candidates Are Female, but Numbers Still Low: Men have called Carrie Blumert “princess” and “honey.” They have commented on her body, invited her inside their homes and even grabbed her hand to check for a wedding ring. Blumert, 31, has been campaigning for an Oklahoma County commissioner seat for more than a year, and she said sexism and harassment have become common occurrences for her. She now understands why many women don’t want to run for office. The number of women running for Oklahoma’s Legislature has nearly tripled since four years ago, but they still only make up 29 percent of the candidates [NewsOK].

(Capitol Update) A Connection Between the Nation’s Highest Incarceration and Refusal to Expand Medicaid?: The latest state-by-state comparison for incarceration rates drew headlines in Oklahoma because we are now number one in incarceration. Rounding out the top ten after Oklahoma are Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Arizona, Kentucky and Missouri. A quick view at the list suggested the question of whether there is a correlation between incarceration rates and Medicaid expansion, so I decided to look [OKPolicy].

Groups Weigh in on Health Department’s Plan to Regulate Marijuana If State Question 788 Passes: State Question 788 would allow Oklahomans over 18 to keep, use and grow medical marijuana, after they get a physician-approved license from the state. Draft rules obtained by StateImpact shed light on how state officials may regulate medical marijuana if voters pass the ballot initiative on Tuesday. The 63 pages of proposed rules, written by state health officials are subject to change [StateImpact Okahoma]. James Lankford and pro-medical marijuana group bicker over biblical quotes [NewsOK]. State Question 788 Fact Sheet [OK Policy].

Money Talks: The Industries Driving Oklahoma’s Race for Governor: Five industries have driven most of the donations to candidates for Oklahoma’s next governor, an analysis by The Frontier of campaign donation data shows. And those donations are mostly clustered around four candidates — three Republicans and one Democrat, according to the data. Oklahoma voters will decide the candidates who will be on November’s ballot for governor on Tuesday, barring a run-off election [The Frontier].

Stumped? Watch These Debates Before Casting Ballots: When trying to decide between candidates of the same party in a primary election, sometimes it can seem like each person’s words and positions sound quite similar. At that point, examining how candidates say those words, how they carry themselves and how they behave under pressure should be extra important before casting your vote in Tuesday’s primary elections. (Viewing tip: Things get rolling after introductions, usually about the seven-minute mark of the videos.) [NonDoc].

The McCongressman? Out-Of-State McDonald’s Money Flows into the Campaign of Tulsa Restaurateur Kevin Hern: The biggest player in the race to replace Tulsa Congressman Jim Bridenstine might just be a fast food restaurant. A review by The Frontier found that almost $130,000 of the outside donations brought in by frontrunner (and McDonald’s franchisee) Kevin Hern’s campaign was from fellow restaurateurs. The vast majority of those donors appear to be other McDonald’s franchisees, according to a review of campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission [The Frontier].

Five Labor Commissioner Candidates Hope to Win This Week’s Primary Election: One way or the other, after this year’s elections in Oklahoma, the state will have a new Labor Commissioner. And six candidates are hoping they win the November election. Five have to make it past this week’s primary election. Incumbent Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston, appointed by Gov. Fallin in 2015 is not a candidate.  That leaves voters to decide among three Republicans, two Democrats and one independent [OK Energy Today].

Republicans face off in Oklahoma County primaries: Two Republicans are seeking their party’s nomination in the race for Oklahoma County assessor, the office long held by Leonard Sullivan, who is retiring. The winner will face Mike Shelton, 45, of Oklahoma City — the only Democrat to file for the office — in the general election [NewsOK]. Two Men Will Face off for the Republican Nomination for Oklahoma County Treasurer. The winner will face Democrat Daniel Chae, 35, of Oklahoma City, in the November general election [NewsOK].

Two Races for Judges in Oklahoma County’s District 7: Oklahoma County’s District 7 judicial jurisdiction encompasses all of Oklahoma County. It is one of 26 total district courts in the state. Unlike other races for public offices, judges don’t usually run by political party, so elections are nonpartisan. Further, there are special rules limiting how they can campaign. Those differences can make it hard for voters to choose how to vote and for candidates to stay within the rules [NonDoc]. Judges on the Ballot in Oklahoma: What you need to know [OKPolicy].

Susan Ellerbach: Respect Your Candidates, Take the Time to Get out and Vote: Every two years, I’m reminded of just how much I love my job. And, it’s no coincidence that every two years there is an election. I witness first-hand the excitement that candidates bring to the campaign. By virtue of working in the media, candidates often flock to our doors to tell their personal stories of why they’re running for office and what they hope to do. It’s impressive, whether you agree with their politics or not [Susan Ellerbach / Tulsa World].

Wind Group Buying Ads in Support of 15 Candidates: An advocacy group for the wind industry reported spending $178,693 in support of state legislative candidates. Most of the 15 candidates are on primary election ballots Tuesday. American Wind Action (AWA) spent the money June 14 on radio and digital ads independent of the candidates’ efforts, its expense report shows. The majority of the money went to help state representatives and senators who have been supportive of the wind industry. The rest went to help candidates running for open seats [NewsOK]. 

PSO adjusts Wind Catcher power line plans; Bixby drops opposition: The Bixby City Council withdrew its opposition to the Wind Catcher Energy Connection power line project Monday evening after Public Service Co. of Oklahoma presented an alternate plan to not only use existing right-of-way through the southern part of the town but to rebuild that route with smaller towers. Wind Catcher is a $4.5 billion project that includes a 300,000-acre wind farm to be built in Cimarron and Texas counties with a 350-mile 765kV transmission line and sub station that will connect to the power grid at Tulsa. The wind farm would be the largest in the U.S. and the power line would be the largest west of the Mississippi [Tulsa World].

OCAST Working with Shrinking Budget: The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology has awarded nearly $4.1 million this year for research and development projects in energy, aerospace, agriculture and health industries, officials said Wednesday. However, that figure is significantly reduced from grant totals in recent years as state appropriations have shrunk, OCAST officials said, and the picture doesn’t look good further out [Journal Record].

Cities try to estimate sales tax return: Some municipal officials have started contacting the Oklahoma Tax Commission for guidance following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on internet sales taxes. The decision has huge implications for government budgets, particularly in Oklahoma, the only state in the nation that requires municipalities to rely almost exclusively on sales tax collections for operations. Yukon City Hall spokeswoman Jenna Roberson echoed several other municipalities’ perspectives in a general sense of satisfaction and happiness but not much information to act on yet [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Rape Kits Task Force Working to Finalize Recommendations: Now that more than 7,000 untested rape kits have been identified in Oklahoma, a task force that’s working to make recommendations for the state moving forward has been weighing the question of how to proceed. The task force is scheduled to meet Monday to try to finalize its recommendations for Gov. Mary Fallin and state legislative leaders ahead of a July 1 deadline [NewsOK].

OU Dean Calls Layoff Talk ‘Unwise’: A University of Oklahoma dean referred to the incoming president’s talk of possible non-faculty staff layoffs to improve the financial situation as “premature and unwise.” Suzette Grillot, the dean of the David L. Boren College of International Studies, made the comment while retweeting a story by the OU Daily about President Designate Jim Gallogly who told the Tulsa World last week that staff layoffs could be part of the solution to turn around the university’s budget deficit [Norman Transcript].

Oklahoma Camp Aims to Identify Future Doctors in Rural Areas: “Operation Orange” is designed to allow students to experience a day in the life of an OSU medical student. And there were plenty of volunteer medical students on hand to talk the attendees through the different stations. One of those volunteers, second-year med student Jacy O’Dell, understands firsthand the need for recruitment in rural communities [AP News].

Quote of the Day

“I get a lot of questions like ‘Are you married?’, ‘Do you have children?’, ‘You look too young.’ ‘You look like a teenager.’ … I don’t want to ever be rude, but I also want to make these men aware that the way they’re treating me is not acceptable. If we want more women in public office, we need to start treating them equally and fairly.”

-Carrie Blumert, a candidate for Oklahoma County commissioner [NewsOK]

Number of the Day


Uninsured rate for people of color in Oklahoma – twice as high as the uninsured rate for white Oklahomans

[Prosperity Now Scorecard]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Rural America Has Too Few Dentists — and Too Few Patients Who Can Pay: Poor oral health has an impact beyond mere toothache. A landmark 2000 report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that oral health is intimately linked to people’s overall physical health and is often associated with serious systemic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, as well as the likelihood of complications in pregnancy. Nevertheless, some 74 million Americans had no dental coverage in 2016, according to the National Association of Dental Plans, putting the dentally uninsured rate at nearly four times the rate for the medically uninsured. According to a 2014 report from the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute, nearly 20 percent of adults ages 21 to 64 said they’d foregone needed dental care in the past 12 months, with the most common reason being “could not afford the cost” [Washington Post].

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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