In The Know: Oklahoma voters show statehouse lawmakers the door

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

Oklahoma Voters Show Statehouse Lawmakers the Door: Several House lawmakers lost their seat or face a dangerous runoff election after Tuesday’s primary, capping off a year of exasperated politics focused on money and education. Five lawmakers lost in the primary election, whether by a wide margin or within a few dozen votes, according to election results Tuesday [NewsOK]. It was a mixed bag for teachers running for political office in Oklahoma but clearly a bad night for incumbent Republicans who voted this year against a tax package to fund a teacher pay raise [NewsOK]. Oklahoma voters encountered some glitches at the polls Tuesday, but a spokesman for the state Election Board said that is pretty typical of an election day [NewsOK].

Puff, Puff, Pass: Oklahoma Approves Medical Marijuana: Voters in Oklahoma appear to have passed State Question 788, which will legalize medical marijuana, according to unofficial results from the State Election Board. Soon after polls closed, initial voting totals showed favor for the measure by a consistent margin of about 10 points. The latest totals as of the time of this posting maintained that early margin, with about 56 percent of voters in favor of the initiative and about 44 percent opposed [NonDoc]. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin released a statement saying her office will work to properly regulate medical marijuana after the passage of State Question 788 [OU Daily]. The new Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority is accepting public comments on draft rules to regulate medical marijuana [].

Mick Cornett and Kevin Stitt Head to a Republican Runoff: See How Each County Voted for Governor: Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett comfortably advanced and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt upset Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb to get into the Republican runoff for governor. On the Democratic side of the governor’s race, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson easily advanced to the general election, securing more than 60 percent of the vote over state Sen. Connie Johnson. Cornett and Stitt move on to an Aug. 28 runoff [Tulsa World]. See registration and voting deadlines for the runoff on our Oklahoma 2018 State Questions and Elections page [OKPolicy].

Runoff Bound: Oklahoma Congressional Candidates Struggle to Top 50 Percent: Democrat Kendra Horn was hoping to have a clear shot at U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-OKC) in November, but her five primary opponents combined to keep her below 50 percent of the 5th Congressional District primary vote. Tom Guild, Elysabeth Britt, Tyson Meade, Ed Porter and Leona Kelley-Leonard were also on the CD 5 ballot for Democrats. But CD 5 on the Democratic side is far from the only high-profile race heading to an Aug. 28 runoff election [NonDoc].

Mike Hunter, Gentner Drummond Head for Runoff in Attorney General Race; Dana Murphy, Joy Hofmeister Also in Runoffs: Republican candidates for attorney general, state superintendent and lieutenant governor are all headed to the August runoff. In the heated attorney general race, Mike Hunter had 44.5 percent of the votes over Gentner Drummond’s 38.5 percent. Democrat Mark Myles will face the winner in November. The race for attorney general got negative, Drummond acknowledged to supporters at his Tulsa watch party [Tulsa World]. State schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister got a tougher-than-expected fight from two challengers in Tuesday’s Republican primary and will face one in an August runoff [NewsOK].

Byrd, Prater Set for Runoff After Republican Primary for State Auditor: Cindy Byrd and Charlie Prater will be involved in a runoff for state auditor and inspector in Tuesday’s primary. Byrd, of Coalgate, received 203,373 votes, or 49.45 percent, while Prater, of Edmond, received 173,072, or 42.08 percent, with 1,948 of 1,951 precincts reporting. John Uzzo, of Tahlequah, received 34,858 votes, or 8.48 percent. The winner of the August runoff will face Libertarian candidate John Yeutter, of Tahlequah [NewsOK].

Oklahoma Teachers Went on Strike. Nearly 100 of Them Are Now Running for Office to Unseat Republican Lawmakers: First they went on strike, now they’re running for office. Nearly 100 public school teachers and administrators are on the ballot in Oklahoma’s primary elections on Tuesday, trying to unseat Republican lawmakers who fought their demands to spend more money on public education. Many first-time candidates participated in the nine-day teacher strike in April that shut down more than half of the state’s public schools [Vox].

Could Anti-Incumbent Fever Leave an Opening for Democrats in Oklahoma and South Carolina Governor’s Races?: Oklahoma and South Carolina don’t top the list for most competitive gubernatorial races in 2018, but Democrats hope to reach for both governor’s mansions this year anyway. Voters in both states with elections Tuesday are incredibly unhappy with their current governors [Washington Post].

Dry Counties Get Wet: Diana Swadley approached Hughes County in February about getting the liquor-by-the-drink vote on the ballot. The county told her to do some research and see what it would mean for the county. Swadley found that failing to get it on the ballot could mean establishments would not get to sell alcohol. The oil-field employees would likely drive to another county to eat dinner where they could get alcohol with their meal [Journal Record].

Oklahoma Ethics Commission Files Lawsuit Against Gov. Mary Fallin, Legislative Leaders: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Tuesday filed suit against Gov. Mary Fallin, legislative leaders and others for allegedly failing to provide adequate funding. The suit asks the Oklahoma Supreme Court to force the Legislature and Fallin to give it an appropriation as required by law. The Legislature raided the agency’s revolving fund, which is made up of fees, and the agency maintains using that revenue to fund the agency is illegal [Tulsa World].

OK PolicyCast Episode 32: Danielle Allen, from South Central Los Angeles to the Declaration of Independence: We’ve got something really special for you today. We’re sharing the recording of an event that Oklahoma Policy Institute co-hosted with Danielle Allen, a Harvard University professor and the author of the new book, “Cuz”. In the book, Allen tells the story of her attempt to rescue her cousin, who was arrested at 15 for an attempted carjacking, was tried as an adult and sentenced to thirteen years. He served eleven years in prison, and three years after coming out of prison, he was dead [OKPolicy].

Second Health Insurer Added to Oklahoma Exchange: Another health insurance provider is coming to the state next year, giving Oklahomans two choices in the federally run marketplace. Minnetonka, Minnesota-based Medica will join Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma in offering insurance plans for individuals. The previous two years BCBSOK was the only provider to offer a plan on the insurance exchange [Journal Record].

Most Regional Oklahoma Universities Plan for Tuition Raise: All but one of the institutions in the Regional University System of Oklahoma will increase tuition this fall under fiscal 2019 budgets approved by regents. The budgets approved last week include increases in tuition and mandatory fees from 3.1 percent to 5.5 percent for five universities, the Oklahoman reported. Southeastern Oklahoma State University won’t raise tuition or fees for the first time since 2009-2010 [AP News].

OKC School Board Approves Projected Budget: The Oklahoma City School Board on Monday night approved a proposed budget of nearly $600 million for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The $598.6 million spending plan is based on projected federal, state and local revenues and includes and operating fund of $434.7 million (more than half is devoted to salaries and benefits); a capital fund of $74.1 million (bond projects); and a debt repayment and insurance fund of $89.8 million [NewsOK]

Opinion: Quality Early Childhood Investments Pay Off: Two different professionals, Greg Forster and Ray Potts, recently submitted opinion editorials to The Oklahomanon early childhood education and came to completely different conclusions. Sounds like the joke about economics: It’s the only field in which two people can share a Nobel Prize for saying the complete opposite! But the topic of early childhood and its economic and social impacts on families and society is no laughing matte [Craig R. Knutson / NewsOK].

Judge Says ‘No’ to Request for Expedited Procedures in Opioids Lawsuit: An Oklahoma City federal judge on Monday once again rejected an emergency request by the state to expedite court proceedings on whether a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers should be transferred back to state court in Cleveland County. Twice Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and his legal team asked U.S. District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange to expedite the legal review process [NewsOK].

Quote of the Day

“More total votes were cast in today’s Primary/State Question than were cast in the 2014 GENERAL Election. And votes are still coming in.”

-Oklahoma State Election Board [Twitter]

Number of the Day


Percentage of the population in Alfalfa County that is female, the lowest of any county in Oklahoma (2017).

[U.S. Census 2017 Population Estimates]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why America Needs More African American Teachers – and How to Recruit and Retain Them: African American students are not the only ones who benefit when classrooms have more black teachers. Students of every background benefit from encountering and interacting with African Americans in the educational system and among authority figures. Unfortunately, many Americans do not fully understand the benefits that accrue to students of all backgrounds when they are taught by a diverse group of educators [Scholars Strategy Network].

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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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