OKMULGEE — Second vote, same as the first.
According to unofficial returns released early Sunday morning, Second Speaker David Hill finished atop a six-candidate field for principal chief in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s primary election to advance to next month’s general election.
Hill, who won the tribe’s original primary in September, received 1,966 votes, or 38.27%.
With 1,172 votes, former Tulsa District representative Bim Stephen Bruner finished second by 11 votes over National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger III.
The trio finished in the same order after the tribe’s first primary on Sept. 21 that was ultimately set aside by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Supreme Court due to questionable ballot security practices.
Principal chief candidates include Hill, Bruner, Tiger, College of Muscogee (Creek) Nation dean Monte Randall, Thlopthlocco Tribal Town administrator Tim Good Voice and former Tulsa District representative Sam Alexander.
Current Principal Chief James Floyd chose not to seek a second term. Four candidates who were on the original primary ballot either withdrew or were disqualified.
Along with the office of principal chief, second chief and seven National Council seats were also on the ballot.
Due to term limits, Second Chief Louis Hicks is not seeking re-election. According to unofficial returns, Okmulgee District representative Del Beaver defeated McIntosh District representative Adam Jones III, 3,480 votes to 1,535.
In accordance with constitutional amendments approved in 2009, Creek voters get to cast ballots for all legislative seats, regardless of where they reside or are registered to vote.
Tulsa District candidates Cynthia Tiger and Jerry Wilson withdrew after the Sept. 21 primary, leaving the incumbent, Robert Hufft, unopposed.
As was the case for the two executive branch positions, the unofficial results show that the top finishers in the other seven National Council seats were unchanged from the discarded Sept. 21 primary.
Okfuskee and McIntosh District representatives Randall Hicks and Darrell Proctor were re-elected with supermajorities.
No single candidate received a majority of the votes cast for the five remaining National Council seats.
In the Creek District, Dean Hughes and Joseph Hicks advance from a three-candidate field to take the seat vacated by Hill.
Anna Marshall topped current representative Rufus Scott by more than 300 votes, but did not secure a majority, thus adding the Tukvpvtce District seat to the general election ballot.
In Muskogee District, Lora Harjo-King and Mary Crawford finished first and second in a three-woman race to succeed Pete Beaver.
Charles McHenry and Deirdra Soap finished atop a three-candidate field for the Wagoner District seat to replace outgoing councilor Johnnie Greene. That district also includes slivers of Rogers and Mayes counties.
In Okmulgee District, Carmin Tecumseh-Williams and William Lowe finished first and second, respectively, among five candidates to succeed second chief candidate Del Beaver.
Results will not be certified until after the conclusion of the appeal period, which starts at 8 a.m. Monday and runs through 5 p.m. Friday. On Sunday afternoon, Nelson Harjo Jr., the election board’s manager, confirmed that all challenge ballots were reviewed Saturday and eligible votes were included in the unofficial tally.
Additionally, a district court hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday to consider what action, if any, to take regarding absentee ballots returned after the published deadline of 11 a.m. on Election Day but before 11 a.m. the following Saturday. The hearing comes after Bruner’s campaign filed a complaint Thursday requesting an extended deadline for absentee ballots returns, citing more than 300 voters who did not receive their ballots in time.
Those ballots were not included in the unofficial results released early Sunday morning and will be stored separately. As per Judge Jeremy Pittman’s order, they are subject to the same security protocols as those received on time by the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Election Board.
Neither Hill nor Tiger could be reached for comment Sunday afternoon. In a written statement, Bruner said he would not drop his complaint despite unofficial returns placing him in the Dec. 14 general election and acknowledged the possibility that it could change the final results.
“Despite rampant corruption and interference from the government, the people have spoken clearly for the second time and voted for a runoff election between myself and David Hill,” he said. “But just because I have made the runoff doesn’t mean I will turn my back on making sure every vote is counted and there is full transparency in our process.”