statewide offices
Candidates for state-wide offices filed their campaigns with the Oklahoma Election Board this week. (Michael Duncan)

Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready will maintain his state-elected position for another four-year term after nobody filed with the Oklahoma State Election Board this week to challenge him.

While it seemed that Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell might cruise to a similar filing-week victory, two individuals filed to challenge him Friday afternoon: Libertarian Chris Powell and Democrat Melinda Alizadeh-Fard.

No Democrat filed to run in a pair of influential statewide races: attorney general and state auditor and inspector.

The year’s hottest statewide positions — governor and state superintendent of public instruction — will feature expansive fields of candidates.

The following article contains a summary of individuals who filed for statewide offices for the 2022 election. Primary elections will take place on June 28. If necessary, runoffs will be held Aug. 23, and the general election is set for Nov. 8.

Seven gubernatorial candidates challenge Stitt

Seven candidates filed with the Oklahoma State Election Board this week to challenge Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt in November.

In the Republican primary, Stitt will face naturopathic doctor and retired Tulsa Police Department Sgt. Mark Sherwood, Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs director Joel Kintsel and self-employed cemetery enthusiast Moira McCabe.

In the Democratic primary, voters will decide between former State Sen. Connie Johnson and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, who was elected twice to statewide office as a Republican, but who changed her registration to Democrat in October.

Marketing executive Natalie Bruno will be the Libertarian nominee. Former Sen. Dr. Ervin Yen switched his party registration from Republican and will challenge Stitt as an independent.

Stitt founded Gateway Mortgage in 2000 and was elected to serve as governor in 2018 with no political background. He has made headlines in recent weeks for signing a near-total abortion ban into law, and he has also been vocal in his frustration with the McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling.

Stitt has received the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, and The Oklahoman reported Thursday that Trump would be holding a fundraiser for Stitt at Mar-a-Lago this week.

Stitt lists diversifying Oklahoma’s economy, improving the education system, supporting officers while reforming the criminal justice system with “smart on crime” policy changes and turning around the state’s health care system as issues of focus on his campaign website.

This will be Sherwood’s first run for public office, and he lists election integrity, abolishing abortion, stopping Second Amendment infringement, ensuring “critical race theory” isn’t taught in schools, banning mandatory vaccines, masks or lockdowns and the deregulation of business and agriculture as issues of focus on his campaign website.

During his campaign announcement in September, Sherwood said he believes the 2020 election was “hijacked” and that Oklahomans should demand a forensic audit of the 2020 election results.

In a video posted to Twitter from an event on April 13, Sherwood discussed securing the borders and said, “I don’t want illegal immigrants coming across the Red River either. We need to assist our neighbors to the south to secure the southern border. We need to secure the border above us, in the air. I’m tired of this chem trail nonsense. Sometimes [you] don’t think about that. Who’s doing that these days?”

Kintsel announced that he would be making a run for governor earlier this month. He served as the Oklahoma House of Representatives’ parliamentarian for 14 years and served as deputy director of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs before being named director in 2019.

Kintsel served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard from 2000 to 2009 and currently serves as assistant staff judge advocate in the Oklahoma Air National Guard at the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In a press release, Kintsel said if elected his first priority would be to “clean up the corruption and mismanagement left by the Stitt administration.” He has alleged improper activity on his agency’s computers, which he believes is connected to the Stitt administration.

McCabe, who lists herself as a stay-at-home mom on her LinkedIn page, has also filed to run for governor. Issues listed on her campaign website include easing the abortion debate by making birth control more available, standing against federal overreach, protecting Second Amendment rights, putting a cap on how much hospitals can charge patients, increasing oil production and helping to strip the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority of its power by ending eminent domain. McCabe maintains two active YouTube pages.

Hofmeister told supporters she was unable to file her campaign personally this week because she had contracted the novel coronavirus, but an agent from her campaign was able to file for her.

In a statement released Wednesday morning, Hofmeister said she is “running for governor to rebuild what Stitt has destroyed: accountability and trust.”

“Oklahomans are rightly upset that what matters most to them— quality neighborhood schools, the freedom to make health care decisions with a trusted doctor and the safety of their communities — has all been put at risk,” Hofmeister said. “I’m looking forward to continuing these conversations across the state and the opportunity to get Oklahoma back on track as governor.”

This will be Johnson’s second gubernatorial run after losing the 2018 Democratic primary to former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson. Johnson served as a state senator from 2005 to 2014.

Priorities listed on Johnson’s campaign website include education, infrastructure, health care, criminal justice reform and family economic well-being. She has previously served as chairwoman of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and vice chairwoman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

Bruno, the only Libertarian candidate for governor, has worked as the director of digital strategies at Skyline Media Group since 2020 and has not run for public office before.

Top issues for Bruno, according to her campaign website, include respecting the McGirt v. Oklahoma SCOTUS decision regarding Indian County reservations, leaving vaccination and masking decisions up to individuals, treating abortion as an individual decision, making health care more affordable, expanding Oklahoma’s cannabis industry, improving education and making innovations to the state’s criminal justice system.

Yen, an Oklahoma City anesthesiologist, was the first candidate to throw his hat in the ring to challenge Stitt, creating his campaign committee with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission one day after the November 2020 presidential election.

State records show that Yen was a registered Democrat until 2009 and served one term as a Republican senator from 2014 until 2018, when he lost his reelection bid to GOP challenger Joe Howell. He initially filed to run for governor as a Republican, but he announced in October that he would be withdrawing his Republican voter registration and would be running as an independent. “I have not changed, the party has,” he said.

Yen has been critical of Stitt’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and told NonDoc last year that the governor’s goal of using privatized managed care to implement the state’s Medicaid program also bothers him.

Pinnell challenged for lieutenant governor

Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell is being challenged by former gubernatorial candidate Chris Powell (Libertarian) and attorney Melinda Alizadeh-Fard (Democrat) for the office in November.

Pinnell was elected in 2018 and previously served as director of state parties for the Republican National Committee from 2013 to 2017. He was chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party from 2010 to 2013.

As lieutenant governor, Pinnell serves as the president of the Oklahoma State Senate as well as secretary of tourism, wildlife and heritage, where he advises the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

He recently told NonDoc that OTRD would be amending its contract with a Swadley’s Bar-B-Q affiliate, Swadley’s Foggy Bottom Kitchen, after they were contracted to renovate restaurants within the state’s parks. The controversial contract covers up to $1.2 million in annual operating losses, and the circumstances of the arrangement are the subject of a criminal investigation.

Pinnell’s campaign issues include education, advocating for small businesses, increasing tourism to the state, increasing government accountability and recruiting more people to become foster parents.

Powell was the Libertarian gubernatorial candidate in 2018. However, he only received about 3.4 percent of the vote in the general election. He served in the United Sates Marine Corps from 1985 to 1995 and has been employed by the Oklahoma City Police Department since 2009. Powell currently serves on the Bethany City Council.

In 2018, Powell penned an article on Medium explaining why Oklahoma does not need a lieutenant governor, stating: “Let’s get rid of this useless office.”

According to her LinkedIn profile, Alizadeh-Fard has owned the Law Office of Melinda Alizadeh-Fard for the last 20 years and has served as an associate immigration attorney for Stump and Associates, located in Oklahoma City, since 2017. She spent 13 years as an administrative law judge and was general counsel for the Oklahoma Public Employee Association from 2004 to 2006.

Crowded field for state superintendent

Five Republicans and one Democrat will be making a run for state superintendent of public instruction.

Republican candidates for the position include Peggs Public Schools Superintendent John Cox, Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace, State Secretary of Education Ryan Walters, and former state superintendent candidate William Crozier.

Deer Creek Public Schools teacher and 2020 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Jena Nelson will be the Democratic nominee for the position.

Walters was appointed to the secretary of education position by Stitt in 2020 after being named the executive director of the eduction advocacy group Oklahoma Achieves in 2019. The organization was absorbed by Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, where Walters serves as CEO, in 2020. Every Kid Counts Oklahoma was in charge of promoting the distribution of certain federal COVID-relief dollars for the Stitt administration.

Walters previously taught advanced placement history at McAlester High School and Millwood High School in Oklahoma City and was an Oklahoma Teacher of the Year finalist in 2016.

Most recently, Walters wrote a letter to Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor requesting that he order the Stillwater Public Schools Board to put an end to their bathroom policy, which allows students to use whichever bathroom aligns with their gender identity. Walters also wrote a letter to the Stillwater Public Schools Board asking members to work together to ensure that students can only use the bathroom of their “God-given natural sex.”

Walters has also been vocal in his support of O’Connor and Stitt’s fight against the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit regarding HB 1775, which bans the teaching of certain concepts about race and gender in public schools.

In March, The Frontier reported that Walters failed to report campaign expenditures in his quarterly finance reports, a violation of state ethics laws. Walters recently has drawn criticism for a series of inflammatory Twitter videos criticizing “woke” educators and other elements of public schools.

Grace has served as superintendent of Shawnee Public Schools since 2016 and has spent 30 years in public education as a teacher, building administrator and assistant superintendent. She was named 2021 State Superintendent of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators, as well as OASA District 9 Superintendent of the Year.

Grace and other district officials have been criticized after an SPS assistant athletic director was accused of sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old boy and investigators revealed that the man, Ron Arthur, had remained employed by Shawnee Public Schools despite receiving eight admonishments for other alleged verbal and sexual misconduct over the years.

Arthur has been charged in Pottawatomie County District Court with soliciting sexual contact with a minor by use of technology, forcible sodomy and first-degree rape.

This will be the third time for Cox to run for the position of state superintendent. In 2016, he ran as a Democrat against Hofmeister and received 44.2 percent of the vote. In 2018, he ran against Hofmeister as a Democrat again, but received only 33.9 percent of the vote. (Now, Hofmeister is a registered Democrat and Cox is a registered Republican.)

Cox has 35 years of experience in the state’s public schools and has served as the superintendent of Peggs Public Schools for the last 23 years. He serves as president of the Organization of Rural Elementary Schools, chairman of the Oklahoma Schools Assurance Group and treasurer of the Oklahoma Schools Insurance Group. He has also served as president of the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators.

Crozier, a retired veteran, previously ran for the office of state superintendent in 2006 and said, at the time, that he wanted to make schools safer by creating bullet-proof textbooks. He even tested his plan in a video posted to YouTube.

Crozier also made a run for lieutenant governor in 2010, receiving only about 5.19 percent of the Republican primary vote.

Nelson has taught at Deer Creek Public Schools for the past five years and has spent 16 years in public education teaching subjects such as English and theater. She currently serves as the student support coordinator and teaches academic enhancement at Deer Creek Middle School.

Two candidates challenge O’Connor for attorney general

Three people filed for the office of attorney general: incumbent Attorney General John O’Connor (Republican), Gentner Drummond (Republican) and Lynda Steele (Libertarian).

O’Connor was appointed by Stitt to be Oklahoma’s attorney general in July of last year following the resignation of former Attorney General Mike Hunter.

O’Connor’s appointment came just three years after he was nominated for the federal judiciary by Trump, but he was deemed “not qualified” by an American Bar Association committee, and his nomination never received a confirmation vote. O’Connor is a Tulsa-based lawyer who has been with the law firm Hall Estill since a 2018 merger with his prior firm, Newton, O’Connor, Turner & Ketchum.

During his time in office, O’Connor has requested that the U.S. Supreme Court overturn the McGirt ruling, filed a brief requesting the Supreme Court overturn Roe vs. Wade and filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s vaccination requirements for federal contractors.

Drummond is a former U.S. Air Force captain who has been the senior attorney at Drummond Law Firm since 1988 and principal shareholder and director of Blue Sky Bank since 2003.

Drummond previously ran for the office of attorney general in 2018, but he barely lost to Hunter in the Republican runoff election, receiving about 49.95 percent of the vote.

Campaign goals for Drummond, according to his website, include protecting Second Amendment Rights, protecting the state against federal overreach and protecting victims of sexual assaults by clearing the state’s rape-kit backlog as quickly as possible.

Steele is a member of the Oklahoma Army National Guard. She is the first qualified female cannon crew member in the organization, and she founded a group called Furnishing Fatherhood.

Five file for state treasurer

Current State Treasurer Randy McDaniel announced in late May 2021 that he would not be seeking re-election.

Term limited state Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell), former State Sen. Clark Jolley (R-OKC) and Oklahoma County Commissioner David Hooten will compete for the Republican nomination. The winner will face Democrat Charles De Coune and former Libertarian State Senate candidate Gregory Sadler in November.

Jolley spent 12 years as a state senator, including time as chairman of the Senate Appropriations and Budget Committee. Gov. Mary Fallin named him state Secretary of Finance and later appointed him to serve on the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Platform points on Jolley’s campaign website include improving the Unclaimed Property program to “reunite Oklahoman’s with their lost wealth and assets” and refusing to let “cancel culture influence our state’s investments and finances.”

Russ has more than 35 years of banking experience and currently serves as chairman of the the House Appropriations and Budget Transportation Subcommittee. He serves on the full Appropriations and Budget Committee, the Common Education Committee and the Insurance Committee.

This legislative session, Russ co-authored SB 1503, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. In 2016, Russ issued an apology after making a statement on the House floor that Native Americans are “predisposed” to having alcohol problems. The statement drew stern criticism from a variety of observers, including within the House GOP Caucus.

Hooten previously ran as a Democrat for the State House of Representatives in 2004, but he was removed from the ballot by the Oklahoma State Election Board for not meeting voter registration requirements.

In 2014, Hooten ran for State Senate as a Republican, but he finished fourth in the primary with about 11.2 percent of the vote. In 2016, Hooten ousted embattled Oklahoma County Clerk Carolyn Caudill and won reelection in 2020, despite criticisms that Hooten’s firing of prior clerk employees had resulted in a settlement costing the county $175,000.

De Coune previously ran for Oklahoma County Court Clerk in 2020, but he lost the general election to Rick Warren, receiving only about 43.2 percent of the vote.

In 2018, he ran as an independent for the state treasurer position but lost the general election to McDaniel, receiving only about 28.4 percent of the vote.

In 2020, Sadler ran for District 17 of the Oklahoma State Senate, but lost the general election to Sen. Shane Jett (R-Shawnee), receiving about 23.5 percent of the vote. During his Senate campaign, he ran on a platform of small government, Second Amendment rights, school choice and lowering taxes. Sadler works for a local printing company.

Byrd challenged for state auditor

Incumbent State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd is being challenged by fellow Republican Steven McQuillen.

Byrd’s campaign website states that she wants to “expose and eliminate government waste, fraud and abuse while bridging relationships and strengthening the agencies and governments that are performing well.”

Byrd was responsible for the completion of the “very disappointing” investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools and is currently in charge of audits examining Western Heights Public Schools and the State Department of Education.

McQuillen has served as the fixed asset accounting manager for the Tulsa Public Schools district since 1998. He received his master’s in finance from Oklahoma Wesleyan University in 2016.

From 2004 to 2006, he served as a volunteer auditor and treasurer of the Philippine American Association of North Eastern Oklahoma.

Crowded Corporation Commission field

There will be a four-way Republican primary for Corporation Commission seat being vacated by Commissioner Dana Murphy. State Sen. Kim David (R-Porter), pastor, teacher and counselor Harold Spradling, former State Rep. Todd Thomsen and Justin Hornback will square off in the June 28 primary.

The winner will face Democrat law professor Warigia Margaret Bowman and independent Don Underwood.

David, who is term-limited in her State Senate position, became the first female Republican since statehood to be named majority leader of the Oklahoma State Senate. However, she was replaced by Sen. Greg McCortney (R-Ada) in October of last year.

David has been a supporter of the Grand River Dam Authority and of Stitt’s efforts to implement privatized managed care for the state’s Medicaid program. According to her campaign website, David is a small business owner and is “well-versed in the issues impacting small businesses” and previously worked in petroleum marketing.

This will be Spradling’s third run for corporation commissioner. He first ran for the position in 2018, but he lost the Republican primary to Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony and current Oklahoma Secretary of State Brian Bingman, receiving only about 14.4 percent of the vote.

In 2020, Spradling lost the Republican primary to current Corporation Commissioner Todd Hiett, receiving about 25.4 percent of the vote.

On his campaign website, Spradling says he considers himself a conservative of the “pre-Trump Republican Party.”

Thomsen served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2006 to 2017 where he held leadership roles including vice chairman of the Education Committee, chairman of the Higher Education Committee and majority whip. He also served on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

After leaving the Legislature, Thomsen worked as managing director of community relations for Epic Charter Schools.

Bowman is an associate professor of law and the director of sustainable energy and resources law at the University of Tulsa College of Law where she teaches water, natural resources and administrative law.

Broken Arrow resident Justin Hornback has also filed his campaign to run for the position. Don Underwood of Inola filed to run for the position on Friday afternoon.

Four challenge Osborn for labor commissioner

Incumbent Republican Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn drew two primary challengers in 2022: former commissioner of labor candidate Keith Swinton and term-limited Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy).

The winner will face Libertarian Will Daugherty and Democrat Jack Henderson in November.

Osborn was first elected to the post 2018 and previously served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 2008 to 2018. Osborn’s campaign website states that she has a goal of ensuring safe workplaces and strong companies, and that it all starts with a trained and educated workforce.

Roberts has reached his term limit in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, narrowly surviving a 2018 effort that defeated several of his colleagues who also voted against the revenue package that funded the historic teacher pay raise that year.

In July, Roberts made headlines after he requested that the State Election Board complete a forensic and independent audit of the 2020 election results in Oklahoma County and two other counties at random.

On Friday, Roberts hung around the State Election Board filing station for about two hours, refusing to tell media what position he would be seeking. Although he had previously announced his intention to run for Congress, Roberts ultimately decided to challenge his former House colleague Osborn for the commissioner of labor post. On his filing document, he listed his name as “Sean the Patriot Roberts.”

Swinton currently works as a project engineer for Ready Services, LLC. He previously ran for labor commissioner in 2018, but he lost in the Republican primary, receiving only about 20.8 percent of the vote.

Henderson was elected in 2004 to fill the District 1 Seat of the Tulsa City Council, serving multiple terms. Although he ran for re-election in 2016, he lost to Vanessa Hall-Harper, receiving about 47.8 percent of the vote.

Daugherty filed to run for the commissioner of labor position on Friday. He serves as the development manager for FirstLight Home Care, which provides in-home senior care, out of Oklahoma City.

Mulready re-elected insurance commissioner

Incumbent Insurance Commissioner Glen Mulready will be re-elected to his position after no other candidates filed to run.

Mulready was initially elected in 2018 and previously served in the Oklahoma House as a representative from Jenks. He has 30 years of experience in the insurance industry.