Nine Oklahoma Senate races to watch this November (Capitol Updates)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol. You can find past Capitol Updates archived  on his website.

Photo by Wesley Fryer / CC BY-SA 2.0
Photo by Wesley Fryer / CC BY-SA 2.0

Last week’s runoff elections helped clear the picture for this November’s legislative races. With half the Senate’s 48 members up for election, it looks like there will be at least nine competitive Senate general election races — three seats currently held by Democrats and six by Republicans.

In Senate District 1, Michael Bergstrom, a high school English teacher in Bluejacket Public Schools, is the Republican candidate against John Myers, a long time veterinarian from Vinita. Bergstrom says he’s an educator, a Christian and a constitutional conservative. Myers says he wants to “promote and protect the assets” of Senate District 1 which means getting the state’s budget in order. SD 1 is currently held by Sen. Charles Wyrick, a Democrat.

In Senate District 3, Sen. Wayne Shaw, a Republican, is expected to have a serious challenge from life-long educator Rhonda Cox, a Peggs Democrat. Cox’s husband, John, won the Democratic primary for State School Superintendent in 2014 and ran a creditable race against current Republican Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister. Shaw, a minister, worked on criminal justice reform and other issues during his first term.

In Senate District 5, Stacy Ebert, superintendent of schools in Battiest, which is a small southeastern Oklahoma school district, is a Democrat challenging first-term Republican Senator Joseph Silk. Stacy, also an auctioneer, is running on a platform of funding education. Silk, who manages vacation properties, is finishing his first term. Silk is a Christian fundamentalist and states’ rights political conservative.

The SD 7 race is between current Sen. Larry Boggs (R-Broken Bow) and Joel Kerns (D-McAlester), who is serving his second term as sheriff of Pittsburg County. Sen. Boggs is completing his first term in the seat held for decades by Democratic Senator Gene Stipe, then by Democratic Senator Richard Lerblance.

Over in SD 9, Jack Reavis (D-Muskogee), a history and government teacher at Muskogee High School, is running to succeed Democratic Sen. Earl Garrison who is term-limited. Reavis won a 3-way Democratic primary with 65 percent of the vote. His opponent is Dwayne Pemberton, a former social studies teacher and coach at several schools including Muskogee. Pemberton defeated former Muskogee mayor John Hammons in the primary and describes himself as pro-life, pro-family values, pro-traditional marriage, pro-business, and pro-local control of education.

The race to succeed SD 13 Sen. Susan Paddack (D-Ada) is between the Republican Greg McCortney, former mayor of Ada who defeated reality TV star Jet McCoy in the primary runoff, and Ada High School Band Director Eric Hall, a Democrat. Sen. Paddack is said to be working hard to help Hall succeed her.

SD 31 in Southwest Oklahoma, the seat currently held by term-limited Republican Sen. Don Barrington, may be competitive for a variety of reasons. There was a hard fought primary and runoff that may have left an opening for the Democratic candidate, Perry Brinegar. Brinegar is the former fire chief in Duncan and serves as a coordinator for rural fire districts. The voters in that area seem pretty unhappy, having defeated both an incumbent representative and senator (Corey Brooks.) Geographically, the Democratic candidate may be better located in the district. This will depend on which candidate is working the hardest and can raise the money.

In Tulsa’s SD 39, Democrat John Waldron, a Booker T. Washington government teacher, is now facing Republican Dave Rader, the former TU football coach. The seat is currently held by Republican Senator Brian Crain who is term limited. Waldron is running to support education and says his is the hardest working campaign in the state. The well-known Rader says his core areas are jobs, education, and transportation. Rader made an unsuccessful bid for Congress several years ago. [Correction: This election is Dave Rader’s first run for political office.]

In SD 43, current Republican Senator Corey Brooks was defeated in the primary by Paul Scott, a Duncan businessman who owns a mobile x-ray company. The primary loss leaves an open seat which leads some to believe the Democratic candidate Leah Pollan may have an opening. Pollan and her husband own and operate a hardwood and plywood company. Pollan says her priorities are education, keeping rural hospitals and nursing homes open, and small business.


Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1990. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

3 thoughts on “Nine Oklahoma Senate races to watch this November (Capitol Updates)

  1. Good to see teachers running but important to note their positions on key issues. Most importantly for me is that Waldron defeats a name most recognized for TU foot ball. Name is important in Tulsa. Waldron is the smartest, most qualified candidate. We need him in OKC.

  2. I am in agreement that John Waldron is very much needed in OKC even at the sacrifice of leaving BTW. Let’s vote for a real change maker, not a name. OK Elections Matter!

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