OKMULGEE — And then there were two.
According to unofficial results released just before midnight Saturday, Second Speaker David Hill and former National Council speaker Bim Stephen Bruner finished first and second among 10 candidates to succeed Principal Chief James Floyd in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s primary election.
Hill, a resident of Bristow, received 1,272 votes or 25.44%, while Bruner received 1,039 votes, or 20.78%.
Lucian Tiger, the current National Council speaker, finished third behind Bruner by 10 votes.
Despite leading most of Saturday night, Hill acknowledged Sunday afternoon that he did not get comfortable until the numbers from the final precincts, including absentee ballots, were announced late Saturday. More than 3,000 absentee ballots were requested for the primary.
“I knew those absentee ballots would make a huge difference,” he said. “I was nervous until the end.”
Bruner was the beneficiary of that huge difference, as the absentee returns were enough to catapult him from a distant fourth place with five precincts left to a spot in the general election.
Neither Tiger nor Bruner could be reached for comment Sunday. The appeal period starts at 8 a.m. Monday and runs through 5 p.m. Friday.
Current Principal Chief Floyd announced in June that he would not run for a second term. Other candidates attempting to replace him included former Tulsa District representative Sam Alexander and Jackie Jackson, a Porter-based grant writer and planning director for the Otoe-Missouria Tribe.
Additional primary candidates included Thlopthlocco Tribal Town administrator Tim Good Voice, Tulsa construction business owner Joseph Rogers Jr., Okmulgee attorney Brenda Golden and Monte Randall, dean of academic affairs for the College of the Muscogee Nation.
Former Principal Chief George Tiger was listed on the ballot as well. However, in light of his Sept. 13 federal guilty plea to bribery in the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the tribe’s election board confirmed Monday that he is not eligible to win. Receiving 135 votes, he finished eighth among the 10 candidates.
Due to term limits, Second Chief Louis Hicks is also not seeking re-election. Okmulgee District representative Del Beaver defeated McIntosh District representative Adam Jones III by a 3,065-1,796 margin to succeed him.
In addition to the two executive branch positions, eight of the 16 National Council seats — one per district — were on the ballot, with each carrying a four-year term. 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.
Three districts — McIntosh, Okfuskee and Tulsa — were clinched outright Saturday night. Incumbents Darrell Proctor, Randall Hicks and Robert Hufft each earned another term with more than 60% of the votes cast.
The five remaining seats will appear on the Nov. 2 general election ballot.
In the Creek District, Dean Hughes and Joseph Hicks advance from a three-candidate field to take the seat vacated by Hill.
Anna Marshall edged past current representative Rufus Scott by 42 votes, but did not secure a majority, thus adding the Tukvptce District seat to the general election ballot.
In the 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 four-candidate field for the Wagoner District seat to replace outgoing councilor Johnnie Greene. That district also includes slivers of Rogers and Mayes counties.
In the Okmulgee District, Carmin Tecumseh-Williams and William Lowe finished first and second among five candidates to succeed Second Chief candidate Del Beaver.
Early walk-in voting for the general election is set for Oct. 30-31 at four precincts across the tribe’s jurisdictional area.