John Michael Montgomery
Sen. John Michael Montgomery (R-Lawton), left, sits with Rep. John Pfeiffer (R-Orlando) during Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt's State of the State address Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. (Michael Duncan)

Oklahoma State Sen. John Michael Montgomery (R-Lawton) is resigning his seat to become the president of the Lawton Chamber of Commerce, he announced Friday.

Montgomery’s resignation will be effective Aug. 1 and will trigger a special election in Senate District 32, which spans the north and west side of Lawton. SD 32 runs west through the towns of Cache and Indiahoma and north to Elgin and Fletcher. The area is also home to Fort Sill, a U.S. Army base that focuses on artillery training, but it does not include Grundy County or its infamous auction.

On July 18, Gov. Kevin Stitt issued a proclamation establishing the SD 32 candidate filing period as July 31 through Aug. 2. Stitt set a special primary election for Oct. 10 and a special general election date as Dec. 12.

In a statement, Montgomery said he valued the experience of serving his district while adding that he is looking forward to working to promote economic development in his hometown.

“It has been an honor and truly humbling to have been able to represent at the State Capitol the community that I have grown up in and call home for the last nine years,” he said. “I am deeply grateful for the trust my constituents have placed in me, for the outpouring of support I have had, and cherish my colleagues I have worked with these many years. I consider it a great blessing to be able to continue to work for my home in a new role as president and CEO of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce and believe that my resignation from the Oklahoma State Senate, effective Aug. 1, 2023, will be a long term investment in our community.”

Lawmakers are currently in a special session set to expire July 31, meaning Montgomery will still be in office as the Senate considers whether to try again on a veto override of a bill extending state-tribal tobacco compacts.

Montgomery won re-election to the State Senate in 2022, earning 67 percent of the vote against Democrat Johnny Jernigan. Montgomery’s unexpired term runs through 2026. Gov. Kevin Stitt will call a special election to determine his successor. The date of that election has not been announced.

Montgomery was elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving two terms in the House of Representatives. This session, he served as vice chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government and Transportation.

He also serves on the Joint Committee on State-Tribal Relations, and the Health and Human Services, Finance, Rules, Retirement and Business Retention, and Economic Development committees.

While in the Senate, Montgomery co-authored a bill that gives tax credits to those who are the primary caregiver for other family members suffering from long-term injuries or illnesses.

“You know, this helps ease that pain a little bit, just kind of one of those pain points. And I think overall it’s just ultimately going to be a great benefit for Oklahomans to, who want to, who are able and want to care for those family members,” he told Lawton public radio station KCCU in June.

Born and raised in Lawton, Montgomery graduated from Eisenhower High School and later attended Cameron University before transferring to the University of Oklahoma, where he completed a bachelor’s degree in international studies and a master’s degree in Global Affairs. When not serving in the legislature, Montgomery works in finance, having founded an investment firm in 2019.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC) praised Montgomery for his work in the Legislature.

“Sen. Montgomery is a talented leader who has a bright future ahead of him,” Treat said in a statement. “He is a valued member of our Senate family and while we hate to lose his expertise and knowledge, I wish him nothing but the best in this new role. He helped the Senate pass numerous measures that will benefit generations of Oklahomans — especially when it comes to economic development and the financial stability of our state. I appreciate his service, and friendship and am glad he will still be in a public-facing role with the chamber.”

Elgin Mayor JJ Francais announced Friday that he will be running for SD 32 as a Republican. Business owner Jennifer Ellis announced Monday, July 10, that she will be seeking the seat.

(Update: This article was updated at 3:25 p.m. Friday, July 7, to include reference to Francais’ candidacy. It was updated again at 9:45 p.m. Monday, July 10, to include reference to Ellis’ candidacy. It was updated again at 4:20 p.m. Sunday, July 23, to include details about the candidate filing period and special election dates for SD 32.)