There will be several primaries in deeply red Oklahoma this year: a governor's race, TWO Senate races, and four of Oklahoma's five congressional districts.
In the governor's race, popular incumbent governor Mary Fallin seeks a second term. With approval ratings north of 50%, she will be difficult to beat. Still, there are some whispers in Oklahoma that Fallin is not the governor she portrays herself to be. Recently, the legislature over-rode her veto of a measure that would have allegedly assured reading proficiency before entering the 4th grade. If there is any challenge in Oklahoma, it will be from Dax Ewbank, best described as a libertarian activist. But here is the problem for his candidacy: Oklahoma is the buckle on the Bible Belt. Their conservatism is NOT a libertarian brand. Regardless, there is no really great reason to upset the apple cart here, especially by endorsing a libertarian in a very conservative state, and the endorsement must lie with Mary Fallin.
Incumbent Republican Jim Inhofe seeks another term in the Senate. One opponent- D. Jean McBride-Samuels- sounds like a Democratic plant in the primary. It would not be out of the realm of possibility since the more people, the greater chance of a runoff. And to Democrats, Inhofe represents one major climate change thorn in their sides. Both Evelyn Rogers and Erick Wyatt would be tempting endorsements, but their stances come nowhere near those of Inhofe. In an open race, I might consider Wyatt, but not this time. The fact is there is really no good reasons not to support Jim Inhofe.
The impending retirement of Tom Coburn, the other incumbent Republican Senator, for health reasons has created another chance for Senatorial wannabes. Seven candidates have entered this race: ex-state senator Randy Brogdan, Andy Craig, Kevin Crow, Congressman Jim Lankford, Eric McCray, state house speaker T.W. Shannon, and Jason Weger. Oklahoma is one of those states that employs a runoff election mechanism.
There are four decent conservative candidates here: Lankford, Brogdon, Shannon and Weger, although I would eliminate Weger based on his lack of political experience. That leaves Lankford, Brogdon and Shannon in the mix. Whoever emerges should keep this seat in Republican hands especially since no really decent Democrat has emerged. There are two deciding factors in this race which eliminates Randy Brogdon- his fundraising inabilities and a lacking of major endorsements. As I have mentioned in previous articles on the primaries, endorsement by outside groups or individuals mean little to me. In this case, however, the list of endorsements for both Lankford and Shannon are telling. I like Ted Cruz and I really like Mike Lee as conservative voices. I value Citizens United and Freedom Works over the Madison Project and American Conservative Union.
Given the almost identical ability to raise funds and the slight difference in issue positions coupled with the endorsements to date, this writer is left with no choice other than to endorse T.W. Shannon to succeed Tom Coburn.
In the Second Congressional District, incumbent Republican Markwayne Mullin has primary opposition from Darrell Robertson. Why? This endorsement requires no brains.
Frank Lucas, the Republican incumbent faces two challengers in the primary- one of them a former Democratic challenger...in 2012. Eliminate him! That leaves Canadian County GOP Chair Robert Hubbard. This writer sees no good reason to shift course here and endorses the reelection of Frank Lucas.
In the very safe 4th District for the GOP, incumbent Tom Cole will face off against Anna Flatt. Perhaps the only dynamic that would lead to a Flatt nod here would be a general dissatisfaction of incumbents. Cole's record speaks for itself. Therefore, the nod goes to Tom Cole.
Finally, Lankford's decision to run for the Senate has created a Republican free-for-all in the 5th District. Five of the six candidates would be decent additions to Congress in a relatively safe GOP district. All except pastor Harvey Sparks has political experience, and Sparks is perhaps the least palatable of all the candidates. Taken in totality- conservative credentials and positions on the major issues, fundraising, polling to date, and overall electability- this writer goes with state representative Mike Turner.