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Oklahoma County voters
The Oklahoma County jail, March 29, 2017. (Josh McBee)

Oklahoma County voters had a chance to elect Mike Christian Sheriff in November. Instead, they stuck with a beleaguered incumbent who was under investigation for incompetence and potential criminal activity.

Now, with John Whetsel resigned, Republican voters again will be able to choose Christian on Tuesday. Alternatively, they could choose a man who served under Whetsel for years: P.D. Taylor.

Democrats also have a primary for the county office, a job The Oklahoman’s editorial board has called “challenging.”

Leading GOP candidates seek distance

With seven men competing to be Oklahoma County’s first new sheriff in two decades, voters may have more choices than they think.

Around town, Taylor and Christian signs dominate, with the 70-year-old former attempting to distance himself from his old boss while posting signs at many of the same businesses that supported Whetsel.

Christian, meanwhile, wants to distance himself from former Sen. Ralph Shortey, who has been charged with prostitution crimes stemming from his relationship with a 17-year-old boy. Shortey had served as a political adviser to Christian.

Taylor and Christian face two other Republicans in the primary: Darrell Sorrels and Brett Macy. Sorrels ran for the office against Whetsel once previously, and Macy is the son of longtime Oklahoma County District Attorney Bob Macy, who was well known for sending people to death row.

That means GOP voters will choose between the acting sheriff (Taylor), a retired state trooper and legislator (Christian), a former sheriff’s supervisor (Sorrels) and a former OKC police officer and current member of the Pardon and Parole Board (Macy).

Car scrappin’ and Arkansas

On the Democratic ticket, 54-year-old Mike Hanson faces 53-year-old Virgil Green. While Hanson is a current Oklahoma County Sheriff’s deputy, Green is currently the chief of police for Helena-West Helena, Arkansas, a majority black pair of towns on the Arkansas/Mississippi border.

Green served as chief of police for Spencer, Oklahoma, from 2011 to 2015, according to The Oklahoman. He was suspended in 2014 and fired in 2015, according to the story. He blamed disagreements with the city manager.

Hanson has been at the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office in one capacity or another since 1986. On March 24 he responded to a story detailing how thousands of equipment items appear to be missing from under Whetsel’s watch.

Hanson wrote:

The cars are a big issue. Both previous Sheriff’s have never kept a close tab on who had them or what people were doing with them. I do believe some of the vehicles have been destroyed and taken to the scrap yard.

The winners Tuesday will face each other and Canadian County Sheriff’s Deputy Ed Grimes — an independent candidate — in the September general election.