Op-Ed: 2018 Oklahoma Elections Recap

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Ford Watkins, Politics Editor

It has been just under 24 hours since I stopped watching coverage of the 2018 midterm elections, and while they can be hard to process, I feel as though some brief analysis will serve as some sort of coping mechanism. The results were fairly predictable in that the Democrats won back the House of Representatives, gaining 26 seats, and the Republicans maintained control over the Senate, gaining three seats. While the national elections hold a plethora of great stories, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, the Sooner State had its fair share of news, too.

The House of Representatives:

In Oklahoma’s five districts, four Republicans and one Democrat claimed victory. In District 1, Kevin Hern beat Tim Gilpin. In District 2, Markwayne Mullin beat Jason Nichols as well as an independent candidate named John Foreman and a Libertarian named Richard Castaldo. In District 3, the incumbent Frank Lucas won against Frankie Robbins with a margin of nearly 50 percent, and in District 4, political blue blood Tom Cole won handily.

None of those are surprises. In District 5, however, in one of the biggest election upsets in the history of Oklahoma, if not the biggest, ensued. Kendra Horn (D), a progressive candidate who wants to make healthcare affordable for all, common sense gun laws, and refused to take outside PAC money, beat the incumbent Steve Russell (R), who was originally elected in 2014. Steve Russell, a veteran who has an ‘A’ NRA rating, and took PAC money, only gained 49% of the electorate. Kendra Horn made history on November 6th, 2018, flipping a district that’s been electing Republicans to Congress since 1975. FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s analytical politics blog, gave Kendra Horn a 1 in 7 chance of winning.

The Gubernatorial Race:

In what I found to be a surprising margin of victory, pro-life Republican and businessman whose company was banned from doing business in Georgia while also making Business Insider‘s “The 15 Shadiest Mortgage Lenders Being Backed by the Government” list, Kevin Stitt, beat lifelong politician Drew Edmondson, a moderate Democrat. It is worth noting that Kevin Stitt had never even voted in a gubernatorial election since registering to vote in 1999.

Matt Pinnell, a Republican, beat Anastasia Pittman, a Democrat, in the race for Lieutenant Governor with 61.9% of the vote. In the Attorney General election, Republican Mike Hunter won 64% of the vote while Democrat Mark Myles managed to win 36%.

Ballot Measures/State Questions:

Only one State Question passed out of the five presented to Oklahomans, and it was a good one. With 78% of all Oklahomans backing it, the State Question 794 ordering the Expansion of Crime Victims’ Rights passed heftily. SQ 798, the proposition to jointly elect the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, did not pass, as 622,200 people voted against the measure. SQ 800, which proposed an outlet for tax revenue into an “Oklahoma Vision Fund” was shut down with 57% of voters voting against it. SQ 801, which allowed specific taxes to fund school districts did not pass, and the Optical Care Locale Rights (SQ 793) did not pass, as the Oklahoma Association of Optometric Physicians put up over $900,000 against it.

The Oklahoma Midterms went as expected for the most part, as the state overall remains dauntingly partisan. However, there were a few good bright spots, including Kendra Horn’s victory to win the House Seat in District 5 against an incumbent, as well as some necessary State Questions being passed (SQ 794) and some potentially detrimental ones being shut down (SQ 793, SQ 800).