A pair of Republican representatives were sent packing during Oklahoma primaries Tuesday, with House Democrats seeing a single incumbent unseated in a narrow race.
Mustachioed rancher Rick West defeated Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) to win back the House District 3 seat he willingly vacated two years prior. Joining Kiger as he exits the Capitol will be first-term House District 11 Rep. Derrel Fincher (R-Bartlesville), who fell to challenger Wendi Stearman.
Alongside unseated incumbents were a slew of empty seats won by legislative newcomers without a general election, as well as other offices headed for primary runoffs.
Click the arrows below to scroll through short synopses of Oklahoma House primary results from June 30. Full election results are available here.
1Rick West success
Rick West won’t be a new face at the Oklahoma State Capitol, but he won one of the year’s most hotly contested primaries. A former HD 3 representative, West was among the challengers who defeated House incumbents Tuesday, earning 1,852 votes to incumbent Rep. Lundy Kiger’s 1,580 in the southeast Oklahoma district. Kiger released a statement Tuesday evening thanking his supporters and saying he will still work for the Poteau-area district through November.
After winning the seat in 2016, West became the first Republican to represent HD 3 since at least 1965. West did not seek re-election in 2018, the same year he voted against the revenue bill that funded teacher pay raises.
West has said he decided to filed for legislative office again after Kiger voted for a bill modernizing age-appropriate HIV education in public schools. In seeking his second House stint, West says he has learned to be skeptical of lobbyists and special interest groups who aim to “rope you in close so that you only work for them.” West will now face Democrat Mike Sullivan in the Nov. 3 general election. A former district attorney, Sullivan served in the Oklahoma House 50 years ago.
2Farewell for Fincher
Wendi Stearman defeated incumbent Derrel Fincher by 613 votes, after Fincher served HD 11 for only one term. Fincher, a former educator, was the vice chairman of the Higher Education and Career Tech Committee.
A traditional conservative, Stearman ran on a platform supporting pro-life abortion policies, the Second Amendment and limited government. She was endorsed by the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, which also played a significant role in defeating incumbent Sen. Wayne Shaw (R-Grove).
Stearman moves on to face Democrat Emilie Tindle in the Nov. 3 general election.
In a potentially historic victory, Mauree Turner unseated House District 88 incumbent Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-OKC) and is now a general election away from becoming the first Muslim to hold a seat in the Oklahoma Legislature.
Turner won the Democratic primary by 250 votes, according to unofficial online results from the Oklahoma State Election Board. While Turner will still have to face Republican opponent Kelly Barlean in the Nov. 3 general election, HD 88 has been represented by a Democrat since the 1970s.
A progressive Democrat, one of Turner’s primary campaign focuses is criminal justice reform. Turner works for the ACLU on that topic, and she is also a member of the LGBTQ community.
Dunnington had held HD 88 since 2014, earning a reputation as a bipartisan lawmaker. In 2019, he co-authored a bill to apply sentencing reforms retroactively, which led to the largest single-day set of commutations in U.S. history. A sociology professor and licensed real estate agent, Dunnington pushed legislation for several years seeking to implement a law requiring equal pay between men and women for the same work.
Dunnington tweeted Wednesday about the “incredible honor” of serving HD 88, as well as his support for Turner.
Representing HD88 has been an incredible honor. I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished. In this era of partisan politics it’s imperative to find ways to work together for the greater good of our state. I wish @MaureeTurnerOK the best as they lead this amazing district.
— Rep Jason Dunnington (@jdunnington) July 1, 2020
4You know the drill … instructor
Early Tuesday, it looked like House District 12 Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow) might be in as much hot water as some of his fellow legislative incumbents. But while challenger Justine Dine led in absentee and early voting, McDugle roared back with strong election day totals to win his third term in the Oklahoma House with almost 53 percent of the vote.
McDugle has served as chairman of the House Wildlife Committee, and he has served as an advocate for sexual abuse victims during his first four years in the Legislature. While Tuesday’s election was not a landslide in his favor, McDugle’s 279-vote margin far surpassed his seven-vote victory in 2018.
5Hello, House members
In the Oklahoma House, three races that featured no legislative incumbent were decided Tuesday evening. The three seats involved two Republican candidates each, so say hello to the following new House members.
House District 1: Eddy Dempsey
After representing House District 1 since 2014, incumbent Rep. Johnny Tadlock (R-Idabel) chose not to pursue re-election to the Southeast Oklahoma office. The position now falls to Republican Eddy Dempsey, who defeated his primary challenger Eric Ensley 610 votes. Since no Democrat filed in the race, Dempsey will not participate in the Nov. 3 general election.
On Dempsey’s campaign website, he describes himself as a “Donald Trump Republican” and “part of the #MAGA team.” Dempsey writes he is a voice for rural Oklahoma, willing to ““fight against the big Oklahoma City politicians who seek to rob us of our resources.”
House District 52: Gerrid Kendrix
After current Rep. Charles Ortega (R-Altus) hit the term limit this year, a pair of Republican newcomers stepped in to fill the void. The voters overwhelmingly supported certified public accountant Gerrid Kendrix, who won the primary election by over 1,000 votes. Since no Democrat filed to run, Kendrix will become the HD 52 representative without a general election.
Kendrix touted three decades of financial experience during his campaign, which he argued made him the right choice to address Oklahoma’s budget as the state fights through the COVID-19 pandemic. Kendrix promised to examine state agencies to find out where money-saving cuts can be made.
House District 59: Mike Dobrinski
With legislative veteran and House Majority Leader Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher) term limited this year, HD 59 voters proved how much they like Mike by electing Mike Dobrinski to be their next legislator.
Dobrinski describes himself as “100 percent pro-life, an NRA member and a supporter of President Trump” on his campaign website, and has stated he believes rural Oklahoma can take advantage of its farms and ranchers by promoting “agri-tourism” as an industry. Dobrinski himself has experience in farming and ranching, as well as other small business ventures.
6Runoffs on, general elections await
Six other House races that had primaries decided Tuesday night now head toward the Nov. 3 general election. Find out more about each below.
House District 28
After incumbent Rep. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole) decided to upgrade from House District 28 to Senate District 28, former House District 28 Rep. Danny Williams took a step toward reclaiming his former office with 54 percent of the Republican vote Tuesday. Williams represented the district from 1988 to 1994, then identifying as a Democrat, before departing to make an unsuccessful run for governor.
Williams changed his party affiliation during a failed run for SD 28 in 2018, the very seat Taylor departed to run for and won decisively. Williams now promises to “stand up for rural Oklahoma” and identifies himself as a “strong supporter of President Trump.” He will face Democrat Yasminda Choate in the general election.
House District 56
House Minority Floor Leader David Perryman (D-Chickasha) chose not to see re-election after an eight-year legislative stint, leaving the seat open in 2020. Republican Dick Lowe won his party’s primary with 53 percent of the vote on Tuesday, and Lowe will now face Democrat and volunteer Mayor Craig Parham in the general election.
Lowe is currently the business and industry coordinator at the Canadian Valley Technology Center. A social conservative, Lowe is a pro-life Second Amendment supporter who has offered students in the area help with grocery shopping amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He has also offered families trips to visit his lambs as a way to cope with quarantine stress. Parham has served in the governance of the town of Amber for more than 20 years, and he is running on a platform of improving education, health care and accountability within the state.
House District 71
The race to nominate a Republican opponent to House District 71 incumbent Rep. Denise Brewer (D-Tulsa) has been narrowed from three to two. Mike Masters garnered 48 percent of the vote in the GOP primary election, and Beverly Atteberry earned 44 percent. Masters and Atteberry are now headed for an Aug. 25 runoff.
Masters is a public school teacher and real estate agent, according to his campaign website. While she conceals her campaign platform behind a sign-up link, Atteberry is a Tulsa-based attorney. Both candidates’ websites are scant on policy details, but each has maintained active Facebook pages. Masters’ page can be found here, and Atteberry’s is found at this link.
House District 79
Of the three Republican challengers seeking to defeat House District 79 incumbent Rep. Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa), Margie Alfonso and Clay Iiams are the last two standing. Alfonso captured 28 percent of the primary vote, but Iiams could be seen as the favorite after earning 46 percent. The two will compete for the GOP nomination again on Aug. 25.
Alfonso’s website describes her as a traditional conservative who supporters President Donald Trump’s plan to construct a border wall and opposes taxation, particularly on retirement income and “the state sales tax on groceries and medicines.” She is a pro-life Second amendment supporter.
Iiams does not appear to have a campaign website, but the Marine Corps veteran uses an active Facebook page to communicate with supporters. The Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association describes Iiams as “the only true Second Amendment supporter” in the race. Iiams has previously lambasted “partisan politics” between and within both parties. He says addressing political division is “a major reason” he is running.
House District 89
House District 89 had been vacant since former Democratic Rep. Shane Stone resigned from the southwest OKC seat effective New Year’s Day, which prevented a special election from being triggered to elect a temporary legislator.
Voters overwhelmingly selected Jose Cruz as the Democratic nominee Tuesday, with Cruz garnering 74 percent of the light turnout. Cruz is an attorney at the same law firm as current Rep. Chris Kannady (R-OKC). Many of Cruz’s campaign promises revolve around expanding public education funding and access to affordable health care.
In November, Cruz will face Republican John Hutton, who does not appear to have an online campaign presence.
House District 96
House District 96 drew a full field of Republican candidates hoping to replace term-limited Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia). Of the four GOP hopefuls, Margaret Best and Preston Stinson will compete in an Aug. 25 runoff for their party’s nomination. The winner will compete against Democrat Nicol Ragland in the Nov. 3 general election.
Stinson is a business owner and a board member of Oklahoma Shakespeare, while Best is an Edmond real estate agent and a certified nurse. An in-depth look at both candidate’s policies and links to more information on each candidate can be found in NonDoc’s HD 96 primer.