Oklahoma House 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.

housechambersne_hiresWith 101 House seats, each up for re-election every 2 years, it’s a little difficult to know which races are left after the August runoff that remain truly competitive. I’ve counted 21 House races across the state that I think could develop into competitive races. Of those, 9 are currently held by Democrats and 12 by Republicans. Only 4 incumbents have races that look like they could end up being close. Three are Republican and one is a Democrat. There may be other close races, too.

In HD 2 incumbent John Bennett (R-Sallisaw) is in a race with Tom Stites (D-Sallisaw). Bennett has made anti-Muslim statements that have been controversial, but presumably he’ll pick up some support for the same reason. Stites, a Sallisaw businessman who holds an engineering degree from OSU and is an Air Force veteran, is a strong opponent. He is the son of former State Rep. J.T. States (D-Sallisaw).

HD 3, left open by the decision of Rep. James Lockhart (D-Heavener) not to seek re-election, is contested by Troy Dyer (D-Heavener) and Rick West (R-Heavener). The race seems to be hotly contested.

HD 4 Representative Mike Brown is term limited, and his seat is being sought by Matt Meredith (D-Tahlequah), an insurance agent and Hulbert School Board member, and Bob Ed Culver (R-Tahlequah). Culver, a Tahlequah native, is a former OU football player and has been living in Texas until recently. His father, the late Bob Ed Culver, Sr. (D-Tahlequah) was a state representative several years ago.

HD 8 is being vacated by the term-limited Rep. Ben Sherrer (D-Chouteau) and is being sought by Darrell Moore (D-Pryor), an attorney and retired Marine Corps Major General who also served on the Pryor City council. His Republican opponent is Tom Gann who describes himself as a small government conservative. Gann has a background in small business currently works for Tulsa International Airport.

HD 12, currently held by term-limited Rep. Wade Rousselot (D-Wagoner), is contested by Darla Milligan (D-Wagoner) and Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow). Milligan is an elementary school teacher and also has a small business. McDugle is a former Marine Corps drill instructor and entrepreneur and is endorsed by U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine. McDugle ran unsuccessfully for Senate District 39 in 2012 against Sen. Brian Crain.

HD 13 is open due to the retirement of term-limited Rep. Jerry McPeak (D-Warner) and is sought by Wayne Herriman (D-Muskogee) and Avery Frix (R-Muskogee). The 63-year-old Herriman operates a seed farm and seed dealership. He ran for Congressional District 2 in 2012. Fix is a 22-year-old small businessman in Muskogee.

HD 16, held by Rep. Jerry Shoemake (D-Okmulgee) who is term-limited, is sought by Ronnie Kell (D-Boynton) and Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee). Kell is a plumber/pipefitter. Fetgatter is an Okmulgee businessman and radio personality. He is the son-in-law of former Sen. Roger Ballinger (D-Okmulgee), who is currently Okmulgee City Manager.

HD 26 became open when Rep. Justin Wood (R-Shawnee) announced just before filing that he would not seek re-election, giving Shawnee Republicans little time to seek a candidate. The Republican runoff was won by Dell Kerbs, who owns a small restaurant in downtown Shawnee called “The Coney Island” and is active in the community. The Democratic candidate is Nick Atwood, a Shawnee native who served as an attorney for Gov. Brad Henry when he was in office. Atwood has the backing of Gov. Henry who is popular in Shawnee.

HD 29 became open when Rep. James Leewright (R-Bristow) decided to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa). The seat is sought by two youngsters, Macy Gleason, 21, (D-Mannford) and 22-year-old Kyle Hilbert (R-Depew). Gleason is an education student at OSU and hopes to become a teacher. She hopes to help education. Hilbert just graduated from OSU and wants to begin his career as a legislator. Both were raised in Creek County.

Speaker Pro Tempore Lee Denney (R-Cushing) is term limited and will be replaced in HD 33 by either Caryl Talley (D-Stillwater) or Greg Babinec (R-Cushing). Talley has spent 30 years in education as a special education teacher, alternative school principal, and Stillwater school administrator. Babinec has owned several McDonald’s and currently owns and operates the McDonald’s in Cushing.

I’ll cover the remainder of the races next week.


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.

One thought on “Oklahoma House races to watch this November (Capitol Updates)

  1. HD 20 is one to keep an eye on as well. Incumbent Republican Bobby Cleveland has drawn a lot of heat for statements against public schools and for openly challenging on the OSSAA. Democrat Matt Failing is a local teacher and attorney and is well known for his service to the local community.

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