58 Oklahomans made it official last week — they are running for election to one of Oklahoma’s seven seats in Congress.
The field includes six incumbents, several current members of the Legislature, several formerly elected officials and many first-timers.
For the second time in eight years, but just the second time since statehood, voters will be filling each seat this year, due to Sen. Jim Inhofe announcing that he would be resigning in January, with four years still remaining in his current term. Under state law, a special election was called to fill the expected vacancy.
Six-year Senate terms are staggered so that, typically, only one of a state’s two seats is ever up for grabs in an election year. Oklahoma’s other Senate seat, currently occupied by Senator James Lankford, was already set for election this year.
The same thing happened in 2014 when a special election to fill the seat of retiring Senator Tom Coburn coincided with the scheduled expiration of what was then Sen. Inhofe’s third full term. Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives come up for election every two years.
Senator Inhofe’s announcement in February set the dominoes in motion -- a non-incumbent race for a highly coveted U.S. Senate seat ultimately spurred candidacy announcements from 16 candidates, including former Trump EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, former Democratic Congresswoman Kendra Horn, former state Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, and current Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin.
Rep. Mullin’s decision, in turn, opened the floodgates in his second district, where 14 Republicans filed, along with one Democrat and one Independent.
In all other races, it's challengers against incumbents.
Senator James Lankford, seeking a second full term in the Senate, is one of three Republicans, six Democrats, one Libertarian, and one Independent in that race.
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1) decided against running for the open Senate seat in favor of trying to retain his seat in the House. Hern has no primary opponent in his bid for a third term but will face a Democrat and Independent in November.
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-OK3) is after a 15th full term, his 11th as the representative for District 3. He has two Republican and one Democratic challengers standing in the way.
It's a similar scenario for Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4) in the 4th District as he also goes for an 11th term, and freshman Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (R-OK5) also has three challengers in the 5th District These races will be narrowed down considerably on June 28, the date of Oklahoma's primary election. Any necessary runoffs will be held on August 23, and the general election is set for November 8.
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