SD 28 runoff, Grant Green and Jeff McCommas
Grant Green and Jeff McCommas are competing in the Aug. 23, 2022, Republican primary runoff to fill the open Senate District 28 seat. (NonDoc)

Voters in the Republican primary runoff election in Senate District 28 will choose between two ranchers who say they only recently had the idea to run for public office.

Grant Green and Jeff McCommas gained 37.15 percent and 28.37 percent of the vote, respectively, in the June 28 primary, beating two other candidates and advancing to the runoff on Aug. 23. The winner will face Democrat Karen Rackley in the November general election.

Green and McCommas recently spoke to NonDoc about their reasons for running, their policy priorities and why they think they would be the best choice to represent the redistricted SD 28, which lies east of Oklahoma City and includes all of Lincoln and Seminole counties, as well as part of Pottawatomie, Logan and Oklahoma counties.

Sen. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole) was elected to the Senate District 28 seat in a 2020 special election after Jason Smalley, who had held the seat since 2014, resigned to work in the private sector. Taylor decided not to run for reelection this year, leaving the seat open.

Businesses and cattle

Green calls himself a business owner and rancher. He is the former owner of Green Propane. He said that after selling the business in 2020, he had planned to focus on his cow-calf operation, but he decided to run for office because he wanted to fix some of the issues he faced as a business owner.

“And that’s part of my motivation is just to try to make it easier on small businesses,” Green said.

Additionally, Green said the “craziness going on in the world” also motivated him to run, mentioning drama over transgender students using bathrooms in school as an example.

On Green’s website, he says he’s running to “protect rural Oklahoma from the urban woke mob.”

McCommas, the owner of McCommas Ranch and McCommas Construction, is also a newcomer to politics. He said he felt called to enter the race.

“I think God put it on my heart to do this,” McCommas said. “And about three years ago, I started looking into this race and studying it, and I would push it away, and it would get back on my heart and I would get back in it. And so when Zack decided not to run, we felt like it was an opportunity to follow that guidance.”

Candidates talk national issues, local problems

McCommas calls himself a “grassroots” candidate and said that he hopes to bring more transparency to the Legislature if elected, citing the Epic Charter Schools scandal, in which Epic founders Ben Harris and David Chaney allegedly embezzled state money and funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into political action committees.

“More transparency of our tax dollars would reveal a lot more of this corruption that we have in our State Capitol. (…) I mean, we all want to talk about how the election was stolen from us, from Trump, and stuffing ballot boxes,” McCommas said, referring to a debunked theory about the 2020 presidential election. “But, to me, that type of situation right there is just as dangerous — if not more dangerous — than ballot box stuffing.”

McCommas said he wants to see more tax money go toward rural communities and local businesses.

“I think some of our tax dollars are being utilized in ways that don’t necessarily help Main Street America and small businesses,” he said.

In addition to stopping the “woke mob,” Green said he wants to address the worker shortage by attracting more people to Oklahoma.

“I don’t think incentivizing people is the right way to do it,” Green said. “I would rather have a rebate system that once people get here and get established, we can rebate their efforts.”

Money matters

As the Senate District 28 runoff approaches, McCommas said one difference between the two candidates can be found in their finances.

“You will see that I don’t have any lobbyists that contribute to my campaign, I don’t have any endorsements or contributions from any politicians or any PACs,” McCommas said. “And so I think that’s the difference, is where is the influence coming from?”

According to campaign finance reports, Green received a total of $12,250 from PACs before June 23. The contributing PACs include the OKC Firefighters Association PAC, the American Farmers and Ranchers Union, an Oklahoma City plumbers union PAC and the Marathon PAC, an entity co-founded by Rep. Chris Kannady (R-OKC) and Rep. Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) to support House members who term out of the Legislature in 2026 and other Republicans they deem pragmatic in subsequent primaries.

Green said that he has taken money from groups that align with “some of the rural things that are near and dear to our hearts.”

According to campaign finance reports, McCommas has received $15,646.02 in monetary contributions, all from individual donors.

“I do feel like it’s easy to say you don’t take any of that money when it’s not offered to you,” Green said.

Oklahoma’s primary runoff will take place Aug. 23. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, and early voting will run Aug. 18 to 20.