The race for House District 61 between incumbent Rep. Kenton Patzkowsky (R-Balko) and another rancher from far northwestern Oklahoma, Kenny Bob Tapp, almost didn’t happen.
At the Oklahoma State Election Board’s April contestation of candidacy hearings, Patzkowsky argued that Tapp should be disqualified from the ballot owing to the state residency requirement. During the day’s final hearing, Tapp admitted that he spends 90 percent of his nights and eats 90 percent of his breakfasts in Colorado, but the board voted to allow his candidacy to continue. The decision led one longtime Oklahoma political consultant to tweet that the state’s residency requirement was functionally “irrelevant.”
More than two months later, Tapp and Patzkowsky are squaring off. The winner of the June 30 GOP primary will go on the represent the panhandle district, as no other party has a candidate running.
Patzkowsky easily won his first race, in 2018, besting his general election opponent by about 40 percentage points.
This time Patzkowsky, who is pro-life, is facing Tapp, who is running as an “abortion abolitionist,” with a platform that calls for banning and criminalizing abortion.
Information presented here is taken from online sources including campaign websites and social media channels.
HD 61 at a glance
Incumbent: Rep. Kenton Patzkowsky
Zip codes represented: 73801, 73832, 73834, 73840, 73841, 73842, 73843, 73844, 73848, 73851, 73855, 73858, 73859, 73901, 73931, 73932, 73933, 73937, 73938, 73939, 73942, 73944, 73945, 73946, 73947, 73949, 73950, 73951
Counties represented: Beaver, Cimarron, Ellis, Harper, Texas, Woodward
Cities/Townships represented: Arnett, Beaver, Boise City, Buffalo, Fargo, Felt, Forgan, Fort Supply, Gage, Gate, Goodwell, Guymon, Hardesty, Hooker, Kenton, Keyes, Knowles, Laverne, May, Optima, Rosston, Shattuck, Texhoma, Turpin, Tyrone
Rep. Kenton Patzkowsky (R, incumbent)
Profession: Farmer / rancher
Platform: Patzkowsky was first elected in 2018. His work in the Oklahoma Legislature has focused on agriculture and other rural concerns. He also co-sponsored legislation that would have made it easier for oil companies to access water in their drilling operations. His full legislative record can be found here.
He is the vice chairman of the House Utilities Committee, and he serves on the Agriculture and Rural Development, A&B Natural Resources and Regulatory Services, and Transportation committees.
Patzkowksy favors strict controls on the state budget and increased investments in public education.
The Facebook page for his campaign says, “his top priority if elected will be to get the state budget in line so Oklahoma can increase teacher pay, invest in public education, and provide critical services that citizens depend on.”
Patzkowksy’s Twitter account describes him as pro-life. He also supports gun rights, earning an NRA endorsement.
Kenny Bob Tapp (R)
Town: Boise City / Colorado
Platform: On his campaign website, Tapp bills himself as an “old school” conservative and says he is running “because the majority of state legislators are unwilling to perform their basic duties, which are to defend life and liberty.”
Tapp is running as an “abortion abolitionist,” with a platform that calls for banning and criminalizing abortion. He previously sought House District 61 in 2014, making the GOP runoff but losing to now-Sen. Casey Murdock (R-Felt).
He believes in small government and would like to see control of school systems returned to the local level. Tapp also opposes new taxes of any kind and has vowed to oppose any attempts to raise them in the future, according to his website.
He also warns that COVID-19 and the economic crisis make it “easy for the government to swoop in.”
“Just like President Trump recognizes the Deep State control in D.C.,” he writes, “I am very much aware of the Deep State in OKC and I will take the gloves off.”
Tapp appears to have ceased publication on his blog — Tapp into Common Sense — after filing for office in April.