U.S. Senate

The U.S. Capitol and Senate in Washington./J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press file

Voters will consider one U.S. Senate race and several congressional races during Tuesday’s primary elections.

In races with three or more candidates, a candidate must secure 50% plus one vote to avoid the Aug. 25 runoff election.

The general election is Nov. 3.

Sen. Inhofe facing three challengers on Tuesday

After more than 50 years in public office, and more than 25 in the U.S. Senate, one might think 85-year-old Republican Jim Inhofe would just once get a pass in his own party’s primary. That hasn’t happened, at least not lately.

Since his first election in 1966, Inhofe has almost always had a primary opponent. Since 1994, he’s run for the U.S. Senate six times and been primaried five.

Yet for all the names he’s faced, Inhofe has never gotten less than 75% of the vote in a Senate primary — and that was against a single opponent in 1996. This year Inhofe has three primary opponents — Neil Mavis, Dr. John Tompkins and J.J. Stitt.

Mavis, 57, is a Wi-Fi architect from Tulsa who twice ran for Congress two decades ago. He didn’t have much success with the voters, but he learned something.

“An an underdog, I can raise issues that the incumbent wants to go away,” he said.

In this case, Mavis’ biggest issue is Inhofe’s sale of some stock just before the markets crashed in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Inhofe says he’s been transitioning from stocks to mutual funds for some time, and the Department of Justice has cleared him of trading on information obtained because of his position in the Senate.

Tompkins, 63, is a semi-retired orthopedic surgeon from Oklahoma City who says he never paid much attention to politics until he began winding down his practice.

“I became increasingly concerned about what’s going on in this country. ... I’m extremely disappointed with our politicians,” he said.

His particular beef with Inhofe, Tompkins said, began about a year ago when he began reading the senator’s book, “The Greatest Hoax,” which claims to debunk climate change.

Stitt is a 46-year-old Kingfisher farmer and gun shop owner who has said he was inspired in part by Gov. Kevin Stitt’s successful 2018 campaign.

J.J. Stitt says he believes the two are distant cousins but have never been close. Kevin Stitt has said he was unaware of J.J. until the latter decided to run for the Senate.

Democrat challengers: The Democratic primary has four entrants. Three other candidates — a Libertarian and two independents — will be on the November general election ballot.

The best-funded and probably best-known candidate seems to be Abby Broyles, a 30-year-old attorney and former newscaster who has maintained a blistering social media attack on Inhofe.

To get to Inhofe, though, Broyles will have to get through fellow Democrats Elysabeth Britt, R.O. “Joe” Cassity Jr. and Sheila Bilyeu.

Of those, only Britt seems to be conducting an organized campaign. Britt, 42, is a human resources specialist who served in the Marine Corps in the late 1990s.

Britt has a certain amount of name recognition in the Oklahoma City area because of her unsuccessful 5th Congressional District campaign in 2018 and some of her community activities.

Cassity, 76, is a Ponca City lawyer and a retired college professor and Army reservist who ran for state corporation commissioner back in 1966. He spent 21 years teaching at Ming Chuan University in Taiwan.

Bilyeu, also 76, lists both Freedom, in northwest Oklahoma, and Flagstaff, Arizona, as hometowns. She was briefly a candidate for U.S. Senate from Arizona this year but is originally from Oklahoma. She says her views are much the same as those of Bernie Sanders.

Mark Keeter and Kojo Asamoa-Caesar, the two candidates in the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary share a common trait: an ability to persevere through adversity.

Asamoa-Caesar, 34, is the son of Ghanaian immigrants whose American dreams never quite materialized, but their struggle inspired him not to give up on his.

Mark Keeter, 63, was born without hips and couldn’t walk until he was 5 years old. He says he’s had more than 50 operations in his life, yet managed to earn engineering and law degrees and work in a variety of capacities over the years.

This competition has a couple of finish lines. The winner from the upcoming primary advances to the Nov. 3 general election against Republican incumbent Kevin Hern and independent Evelyn Rogers.

The Congressional District 1 Democratic primary is one of six congressional primaries June 30

Other congressional primaries

CD 2 (Republican): State Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Watson, and Rhonda Hopkins of Rose are trying to squeeze out Markwayne Mullin, a fourth-term incumbent some deem insufficiently hard line on issues such as immigration and abortion.

Mullin has name recognition and money on his side, and there’s no indication of large-scale dissatisfaction among his constituency, but Congressional District 2 is always hard to gauge because of its size and unique personality. Silk has a following in southeastern Oklahoma. Hopkins could peel off some votes in the northern half of the district.

The Republican nominee will face Democrat Danyell Lanier and Libertarian Richie Castalado in the general election.

Congressional District 4 (Republican): Incumbent Tom Cole has three primary challengers — libertarianish James Taylor, beaten handily by Cole in each of the past two elections; Moore businessman Trevor Sipes; and Choctaw mental health professional Gilbert O. Sanders.

Seeking his ninth term, Cole has faced many challengers since first being elected in 2002 but none has made much of a contest of it.

The Republican nominee faces a Democrat and Libertarian Bob White in the general election.

Congressional District 4 (Democrat): The Norman area always seems to offer up entrants, and this year is no different.

Mary Brannon, a retired educator, received 33% of the vote against Cole two years ago and is back this time. Also on the June 30 ballot are David Slemmons, a retired librarian, and John D. Argo, a 68-year-old Norman resident.

Congressional District 5 (Republican): Republicans are falling all over themselves for a crack at Democrat Kendra Horn, who won this central Oklahoma district by a hair’s breadth in 2018. There’s even a Tulsan, Shelli Landon, in the race.

The cavalry charge includes GOPers of just about every leaning but is led by state Sen. Stephanie Bice, businessman David Hill, former state Superintendent Janet Barresi and businesswoman Terry Neese, all of Oklahoma City.

Of those four, Bice’s record is the most moderate, with Barresi and Neese to her right. Hill, a political novice, has no record but is backed by major Oklahoma City oil interests.

This one is almost certain to go to the Aug. 25 runoff election.

Congressional District 5 (Democrat): The Republican winner won’t necessarily face Kendra Horn.

Retired college professor Tom Guild, a perennial candidate in this district, is challenging Horn in the primary. Horn has money and organization on her side and Guild has not been particularly successful with voters in the past.


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