After just a year representing Senate District 22 in the Oklahoma Legislature, Sen. Jake Merrick (R-Yukon) is facing a challenger in the Republican primary who is running with the endorsement of Gov. Kevin Stitt.
In 2021, Jake Merrick won the seat in a special election after the previous senator from the district, Stephanie Bice, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Now Kristen Thompson, a political newcomer, is challenging Merrick with the governor’s endorsement.
The winner of the Republican primary on June 28 will face the sole Democratic candidate, Blake Aguirre. John Williams also filed to run in the Republican primary but later withdrew his candidacy.
Senate District 22 is situated in northeast Canadian County and northwest Oklahoma County, representing parts of northern Oklahoma City and Edmond as well as Piedmont.
The following overview of the candidates is derived from publicly available information and candidates are presented in alphabetical order. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, and early voting will run June 23-25.
Sen. Jake Merrick
Background: Merrick has been the senator for District 22 since April 2021. He co-owns a construction company and was previously a bodybuilder, personal trainer and minister. According to his Senate bio, he was the pastor at Home Groups at Living Rivers Millennial Church in Tulsa for four years before serving as co-pastor of the Tabernacle of Praise in Edmond for another four years. He has a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies from Dallas Baptist University and a master’s of divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Platform: On his website, Merrick calls himself a “constitutional Republican” with a “biblical worldview.” He says that his priorities in office are:
- election integrity (He has claimed that the 2020 presidential election was illegally stolen from former President Donald Trump, a claim that has been widely debunked.)
- ending abortion in Oklahoma
- standing “against the LGBTQ+++ agenda”
Additionally, Merrick is against vaccine mandates. He has argued that the coronavirus pandemic was planned to undermine Trump’s presidency. He also says he wants to reform the Department of Human Services and tax system, though he does not give specifics for what he wants to change. Merrick also says he wants Oklahoma criminal justice to focus on “rehabilitation.”
Merrick has also spoken in favor of parental choice in education, although he voted and debated against a recent school voucher bill that had been pushed by Stitt and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC), saying that he objected to bringing public money and government oversight to private schools. The vote has been highlighted in independent expenditure television advertising against Merrick.
On his website, Merrick says he is endorsed by a number of state senators and representatives, as well as the National Rifle Association, Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association, Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights and Oklahomans United for Life.
Background: Thompson says on her website that she and her husband “created several businesses in the commercial construction and hospitality industry.” Thompson’s husband, Bryce, is the the owner of CORD Construction Services, according to its LinkedIn page. Currently, Thompson serves on the Visit Edmond Tourism Advisory Board. The board’s Destination Guide lists her as a member representing the restaurant industry through the Community Through Beer Group, in which her husband is the development partner.
According to her LinkedIn page, Thompson has an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Oklahoma.
Platform: Thompson says on her campaign website that education, the economy, infrastructure, health care and conservative values are her campaign priorities.
In the area of education, Thompson does not give specifics besides saying she wants to support schools and empower parents. Additionally, she wants to support higher education, “including trade and technical schools.”
For infrastructure and the economy, Thompson says she “will support innovative ways to improve our state’s transportation and technical infrastructure, without burdening taxpayers” and that she wants to “eliminate government regulations” and “attract new employers and job opportunities” to Oklahoma.
Thompson supports improving mental health services, particularly for children. She also says she is pro-life and pro-Second Amendment.
Thompson’s sole endorsement listed on her website is from Gov. Kevin Stitt. The endorsement included a $1,500 donation from Stitt’s Turnaround PAC.
“Kristen Thompson is a conservative business leader and job creator who will always put Oklahoma families first,” Stitt is quoted as saying on Thompson’s website. “Having three children of her own, Kristen will fight for parents to have a voice in the classroom and to ensure our kids receive a first-class education.”
Thompson has also received endorsements from other groups, such as the State Chamber of Oklahoma PAC, Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and the Edmond Fraternal Order of Police.
(Update: This article was updated at 12:50 p.m. Thursday, June 23, to include additional endorsements.)