Two loyalists of former President Donald Trump who both have embraced his false claim that he won the 2020 election face off Tuesday in a contest that likely will decide who will be Oklahoma’s next U.S. senator.
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a plumbing company owner from Westville, and T.W. Shannon, a former speaker of the Oklahoma House and a bank executive from Oklahoma City, were the top two vote-getters in June’s 13-candidate Republican primary, but neither topped the 50% threshold needed to win the nomination outright. Mullin, who topped the field with nearly 44% of the vote, earned Trump’s endorsement shortly after the primary.
Mullin and Shannon are seeking to replace retiring 87-year-old U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a fixture in Republican politics in Oklahoma since the 1960s who has held the U.S. Senate seat since being elected in 1994. Inhofe is leaving before his six-year term is finished, so his replacement will serve for four years.
Polls across the state will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
The winner of the contest will be heavily favoured in November’s general election against former Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, along with an independent and a Libertarian. Oklahoma hasn’t elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in more than 30 years.
In a state where nearly 10% of the population identifies as American Indian, both Mullin and Shannon are members of Native American tribes – Mullin a Cherokee citizen and Shannon, who is also African American, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.
Campaign finance reports show that Mullin has raised about $3.6 million, which is nearly three times the $1.3 million that Shannon has reported he raised.
In campaign ads and on the stump, both men have touted their positions on hot-button issues and vowed to fight President Joe Biden’s policy agenda. Shannon launched an anti-abortion ad in which he labelled Planned Parenthood the “true face of white supremacy,” while Mullin in an ad featuring two of his own children and a montage of transgender collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas, said: “Democrats can’t even tell us what a woman is.”
Also on Tuesday, Democrats Jason Bollinger, an Oklahoma City attorney, and Madison Horn, a cybersecurity expert, will face off in the primary runoff in the race for Oklahoma’s other U.S. Senate seat. The winner will face incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford, who will be the heavy favourite in November, along with a Republican and an independent.
In the race for an open U.S. House seat in eastern Oklahoma, Republicans Josh Brecheen, a former state senator from Coalgate, and state Rep. Avery Frix, of Muskogee, face off in the GOP runoff after emerging as the top two candidates in June’s 14-candidate primary. The winner will face Democrat Naomi Andrews, of Tulsa, and independent Ben Robinson, of Muskogee, in November.
Also on the ballot Tuesday will be Republican primary runoffs for several statewide offices, including state superintendent of public instruction, state treasurer, labour commissioner and corporation commissioner.
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