Senate District 32 special election draws six candidates (Capitol Update)

The race to replace Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, who recently resigned to become CEO of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, will be interesting and perhaps more competitive than might have been expected, given the short notice to people in the Lawton area. Sen. Montgomery was just re-elected in 2022 and resigned at the end of the first year of his four-year term. He would have termed out in 2026.

The filing period was last week, and the race drew four Republican candidates and two Democrats. The special primary election will be on October 10, with the special general election on December 12. There are no runoffs in a special election. Running as Republicans are Jean Hausheer, 66, Lawton; JJ Francais, 42, Elgin; Jennifer Ellis, 54, Medicine Park; and Dusty Deevers, 45, Elgin. The Democrats are Johnny Jernigan, 45 and Larry Bush, 49, both of Lawton.

Hausheer is a Lawton physician, having received her residency training at Mayo Clinic. She was a clinical professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Oklahoma Dean McGee Eye Institute, adjunct professor at OSU’s Lawton Emergency Medicine and Family Medicine Residency programs, staff physician at Comanche County Memorial Hospital and Southwest Medical Center, Oklahoma City Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital, and specialty physician consultant at the Lawton Indian Hospital. She served as president of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, a board member of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, and she is president of the Great Plains County Medical Society. She is president of the Christian Ophthalmology Society, founder of the Lawton Council of the Blind, and has made numerous trips on medical missions with Samaritan’s Purse, The Luke Foundation, Team Africa, Mercy Ships, and others. Hausheer was appointed to the board of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority by Governor Stitt in 2019 but was removed, along with the only other physician on the board, in 2021 when they voted with the majority of the board against rules promoted by the governor that would have given management of the state Medicaid program to private insurance companies without going through the legislature.

Francais is currently mayor of Elgin. He is vice president of public affairs at Hilliary Communications, a billing agent for rural telephone, internet, and cable companies. In his position at Hilliary, Francais manages numerous company projects, serves as the liaison for governmental affairs at the state and federal level, and serves as associate publisher of Hilliary’s weekly newspapers — The Chronicle and Southwest Ledger, both of which cover rural Southwest Oklahoma communities. In 2022, Governor Stitt appointed Francais to the University of Science & Arts of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents. According to an article in the Lawton Constitution, Francais’ platform includes fighting crime, battling inflation, and protecting Oklahoma’s children from transgender grooming and woke corporations. He believes government should empower its citizens rather than restrict their liberties, according to a press release.

Ellis is president and CEO at Cosmetic Specialty Labs Inc. in Lawton, where she’s worked for 27 years. The company manufactures pharmaceuticals and cosmetics for customers like ULTA Beauty, Walmart, and Walgreens, and it exports products to more than 50 countries. She was a Patriot Missile Operator and mechanic in the Army, a MOS now located at Fort Sill. She served on multiple boards and nonprofits in Lawton, including the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce and mayor of Medicine Park. She was appointed by Gov. Stitt to the Oklahoma Bar Association Professional Responsibilities Tribunal in 2019 and later to serve as a Commissioner on the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) in 2021. As the state began to recover from COVID, she was requested to serve on the governor’s “Bounce Back Committee,” leading the manufacturing committee.

Deevers is pastor of Grace Community Church of Elgin and Chief Information Officer of Plexi Protective Equipment, a national distributor of plexiglass products. Before that, he was pharmacy manager at Elgin Discount and Compounding Pharmacy. He attended Bacone College and Oklahoma City University on baseball scholarships and earned associate and bachelor’s degrees in biology. He was an academic All-American at OCU. In a Tweet (or X) announcing his candidacy for state senate he said, “For years, I’ve watched as dangerous, immoral policies coming out of Washington, D.C. and even Oklahoma City have hurt my family and the members of my church. I intend to put a stop to it. I don’t say that as a politician but as a pastor, husband, and father. I will fight to enact just laws. I will seek to obey Christ. I will seek to make SD 32 a better place for you and our children.” He is a writer for a website for Southern Baptists seeking to abolish abortion, one of the primary authors of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Resolution on Abolishing Abortion, and a board member of Rescue Those.

Jernigan is a guitarist and musician with an Associate of Arts in music from Southwestern Oklahoma State University. He worked as a motor hand for Cactus Drilling, LLC, for several years and is currently a Certified Nurse Aide (CNA). He ran for the Senate last year but was defeated by Sen. Montgomery 67.4 percent to 32.6 percent.

Bush is the owner of Larry Bush Insurance Agency, Inc., an independent insurance agency in Lawton and is a former starting defensive back for the OU Sooners. He has been active in community organizations in Lawton including the Chamber of Commerce and the Lawton Public Schools Foundation. He ran against Sen. Montgomery for the House District 62 seat in 2016 and was defeated 53 percent to 47 percent. When Montgomery moved to the Senate, Bush ran against current Rep. Daniel Pae, again for House District 62, and lost by only 42 votes, 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent. He ran again against Pae, who was then the incumbent, in 2020 and lost 55.1 percent to 44.9 percent. This will be Bush’s first run for the State Senate.


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.

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