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Oklahoma sheriff elections
Clockwise from top left: Canadian County Sheriff Chris West, Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris, Mayes County Sheriff Mike Reed, Marshall County Sheriff Donald Yow, Cleveland County Sheriff Chris Amason and Grady County Sheriff Gary Boggess were all reelected to new terms Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (NonDoc)

In Tuesday’s primary election, Pittsburg County voters reelected a sheriff facing felony charges, McCurtain County voters ousted their sheriff one year after his racist remarks made national news, and Tillman County voters selected the sheriff candidate backed by a “behind the scenes guy” who remains under criminal investigation.

Voters in nearly half of the state’s 77 counties went to the polls Tuesday to cast ballots for Oklahoma sheriff elections. Other interesting results included the defeat of a sheriff accused of protecting cockfighting rings, as well as a complete tie in the election for Carter County sheriff.

In all, six incumbents lost their bids for reelection, and two others were pushed into runoffs.

With Republicans dominating the candidate filings, many of the primary races determined the winners of the office. Others in races with at least three candidates who failed to win a majority of votes will head to an Aug. 27 runoff election. Only a few will be on the campaign trail through the Nov. 5 general election.

Sheriffs in Oklahoma serve four-year terms and will take their oaths of office in January. Sheriffs are set to see a pay bump in the coming year after the Oklahoma Legislature created a new sheriff salary support system this session.

All election results are unofficial until they are certified by the Oklahoma State Election Board. The following results for Oklahoma sheriff elections are presented in alphabetical order by county.

Atoka County: Incumbent loses after cockfighting criticism

There’s a new sheriff coming to town the county. Atoka police officer Kody Simpson earned 51.66 percent of the vote to unseat incumbent Sheriff Tony Head, who received 36.57 percent of the vote. Former Sheriff Gary McCool finished third at 11.77 percent. In all, 1,504 Atoka County residents voted.

Tony Head, served as sheriff for 12 years and was named sheriff of the year in 2023. In a controversial move, Head topped the list of signatures on an April 2023 letter calling on the Oklahoma Legislature to lower criminal punishments for cockfighting offenses. Head was accused of tipping off cockfighting rings about potential raids and visits, as well as not enforcing the law when cockfighting occurred.

With no other candidates in the race, Simpson is set to assume office in January.

Beaver County: Two of four Republican candidates eliminated

Current incumbent Reuben Parker Jr. chose not to seek a third term as Beaver County sheriff in the Oklahoma Panhandle, which left four Republican candidates seeking his office, including his undersheriff Shawn Campbell.

Scott Mitchell, earning 41.76 percent of the vote, and Campbell (35.21 percent) will face each other in the Aug. 27 runoff. Chris McMinn came in third at 12.83 percent, and Clark Rodkey finished with 10.21 percent. In total, 1,068 Beaver County Republican residents voted.

Beckham County: Manning reelected sheriff

Sheriff Derek Manning earned 65.23 percent of the vote over his opponent Wes Henry, chief of police at the Erick Police Department, who received 34.77 percent. In total, 1,366 Beckham County Republicans voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Manning is set to remain in office for a third term.

Blaine County: Daugherty to serve second term

Sheriff Travis Lee Daugherty earned 62.35 percent of the GOP vote against Tony Almaguer, who had previously served as sheriff from 2017 to 2021. Almaguer received 37.65 percent support Tuesday. In total, 1,291 Blaine County Republicans voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Daughtery is set to take office in January.

Caddo County: Davis wins another term

Sheriff Spencer Davis defeated his opponent, Apache Police Chief Brynn Barnett. Davis received 62.8 percent, and Barnett earned 37.2 percent. In total, 1,578 Caddo County residents voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Davis will remain in office for another term.

Canadian County: West wins third term

Sheriff Chris West earned 81.83 percent of the vote against his opponent Justin Mize, a deputy sheriff in Cleveland County, who earned 18.17 percent of the vote. In total, 12,270 Canadian County Republican residents voted.

West drew criticism in 2021 for traveling to Washington for the Jan. 6 rally and protest at Liberty Square regarding then-President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election. West said he attended the rally and walked to the U.S. Capitol with other Trump supporters, but he claimed he did not partake in the subsequent insurrection.

With no other candidates in the race, West is set to remain in office for a third term.

Carter County: Bryant and Long tie, so name drawn at random

When votes were tallied Tuesday night, incumbent Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant and challenger DJ Long tied, both earning 50 percent of the 5,138 ballots cast by Carter County Republicans.

State law says the county election board shall examine and consider any provisional ballots cast Tuesday, which could sway the election to one candidate or the other. Either candidate can request and pay for a recount, which would cost $1,200 for a manual recount or $900 for an electronic recount.

If the race remains tied following provisional ballot analysis and any recount, Title 26, Section 8-105 of state statute specifies that the Carter County Election Board must invite the candidates to a special meeting where a winner will be selected “by lot,” also known as a random drawing. The statute states:

3. The secretary of the appropriate election board shall, in full view of those present at the meeting, clearly write or print the name of each tied candidate on separate pieces of paper measuring approximately equal size. The names of the candidates shall be written or printed on the same color and type of paper. The papers shall be folded in half one time so that the written names are not visible and shall be placed into a container selected by the secretary of the appropriate election board;

4. The secretary shall draw, or may designate a person other than the candidates, witnesses or other person directly interested in the election to draw, one paper, and the name of the nominee or electee appearing on the first drawn paper shall be declared the winner. The secretary shall then expose the other name or names not drawn to all witnesses present; and

5. The meeting shall be held on a weekday, holidays excepted, between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

Carter County Election Board Secretary Diane Hall revealed Friday that none of the five provisional ballots cast in the race was valid. Hours later, Bryant filed paperwork and submitted a cashier’s check to request a recount. The race remained tied following the recount, and Long was declared winner after his name was drawn from a container at random June 28.

Beyond its unusual tied results, the Carter County sheriff election also featured dynamics related to cockfighting. Bryant, the incumbent, was involved in two arrests of men accused of cockfighting activities, the most recent coming earlier this month. The situation spurred third-party campaign communications from pro and anti-cockfighting advocates.

Cherokee County: Chennault defeats two challengers

Sheriff Jason Chennault is set to serve his second term after winning 60.72 percent of the vote against opponents Pete Broderick, who earned 30.02 percent, and Clint Johnson, who received 9.26 percent.

In total, 2,085 Cherokee County GOP residents voted. With no other challengers in the race, Chennault is set to be sworn into a second term in January.

Cimarron County: Twombly to take office

In an election for a position that has been difficult to fill, Republican Clint Twombly was elected to be the next sheriff of Cimarron County in the Oklahoma Panhandle. Twombly defeated Tonya Wood, earning 77.42 percent of the vote to Wood’s 22.58 percent. In total, 496 Cimarron County Republican residents voted.

In 2023, the Board of County Commissioners selected James Taylor to be appointed sheriff after the resignation of Sheriff Michael Berguetski. But Taylor, whose employment at the department had been ended once previously, resigned in March amid rumors about personnel issues.

Deputy Sheriff Mark Swinton, who had been recruited to the county by Taylor, was appointed interim sheriff, but he did not seek reelection. The difficulties recruiting qualified sheriffs in the rural Panhandle county — which was paying Berguetski $37,068 at the time of his departure — partially spurred the new sheriff salary support program created by the Oklahoma Legislature in House Bill 2914 this session. The new minimum sheriff salary in January will be $44,000.

With no other challengers in the race, Twombly is set to assume office in January 2025. Twombly is related to accused murderer Cole Twombly, and an affidavit filed in the high-profile case notes that Cole and Cora Twombly borrowed Clint Twombly’s “blue flatbed pickup” at some point following the slayings. It is not believed that Clint Twombly had knowledge of their actions.

Cleveland County: Amason defeats two for second term

Sheriff Chris Amason won Tuesday’s Cleveland County sheriff election by earning 53.35 percent of the vote. Julie Tipton received 32.97 percent and Tim Deal, who shared movie-themed campaign memes, received 13.68 percent. In total, 20,727 Cleveland County Republicans voted.

Budget concerns are a hot topic in the Cleveland County Sheriff’s office. Amason, who has been accused of overspending, has spent months in a back-and-forth with the Cleveland County Budget Board discussing funding for the office. The Budget Board created a $3.2 million bailout fund and opted to postpone repair projects across the county.

With no other candidates challenging his reelection, Amason is set to continue budget negotiations for the office.

Comanche County: Merritt, Moon advance to runoff

Incumbent Sheriff Kenny Stradley chose not to seek a second term and drew four candidates to replace him. It marked the first time Stradley had not filed for the office since 1988, and he will retire as the longest-serving sheriff in Oklahoma history.

Michael Merritt earned 44.13 percent of the vote, and Andy Moon earned 43.24 percent which will send the them to the runoff election Aug. 27. Dell Galloway is out of the race after obtaining 12.63 percent of the vote. In total, 5,692 Comanche County Republican residents voted.

The winner of the runoff will go on to face Democratic candidate David Stroud in November.

Delaware County: Thomas boots Beck

Ray Thomas, a former investigator for the district attorney in Ottawa and Delaware counties, earned 58.63 percent of the vote winning over his incumbent Sheriff James Beck who obtained 41.37 percent. In total, 3,237 Delaware County residents voted.

Beck attempted to challenge Thomas’ eligibility for office by claiming he was not legally qualified to run because he was using two different versions of his last name. However, the Delaware County Election Board voted unanimously to keep Thomas on the ballot.

With no other challengers in the race, Thomas is set to assume office in January 2025.

Grady County: Boggess elected sheriff after interim tag

Gary Boggess, the sheriff appointed following Jim Weir’s retirement, defeated opponent Jeff Franklin on Tuesday. Boggess earned 74.62 percent of the vote, and Franklin received 25.38 percent. In total, 5,769 Grady County Republican residents voted.

While the election is finished, Boggess has another fight to finish with cancer.

“The support of my staff, the support of the citizens of Grady County, they kept me going even at my weakest moments,” Boggess said. “We’re going to keep cancer beat. Stay positive.”

Grant County: Irvin elected amid beef between other candidates

Grant County residents ended the feud between incumbent Sheriff Scott Sterling and his former deputy, Jeremy Brittain, by electing a third candidate — Tim Irvin — as their sheriff.

Irvin received 63.44 percent of the vote followed by Sterling, who received 33.20 percent, and Brittain, who finished last with 3.36 percent. In total, 1,012 Grant County residents voted.

Brittain filed a lawsuit against Sterling alleging violation of his First Amendment rights and interference with his future employment after Sterling had fired him. Brittain alleged that Sterling fired him as retaliation for running against him in 2020.

With no other challengers in the race, Irvin is set to replace Sterling in January 2025.

Harmon County: Cornett beats Wood

Incumbent Sheriff Kirk Wade chose not to seek reelection and drew two Republican candidates to vie for his place.

Steve Cornett earned 53.87 percent of the vote against his opponent, Deakon Jakob Wood (46.13 percent). In total, 284 Harmon County residents voted.

With no other candidates seeking the post, Cornett is set to take office in January.

Harper County: McClendon defeats Brinson for return to office

Thomas Ray McClendon is set to return to the Harper County Sheriff’s Office after earning 62.41 percent of the vote.

Clif Brinson, the current sheriff in Harper County, received 27.43 percent of the vote, followed by undersheriff Travis Painter, who earned 10.16 percent.

In total, 689 Harper County Republican residents voted.

Hughes County: Teague to take office

Incumbent Sheriff Marcia Maxwell did not seek reelection and drew two Republican candidates to take her place: undersheriff Trever Teague and Daniel Nowlin.

Teague is set to succeed Maxwell in January after obtaining 68.84 percent of the vote over Nowlin, who earned 31.16 percent. In total, 937 Hughes County Republican residents voted.

Kingfisher County: Riedlinger just shy of winning election outright

Dennis Banther, Kingfisher’s sheriff of 20 years, chose not to seek another term and drew four candidates vying to replace him.

Jonathan Riedlinger earned 49.49 percent of the vote, and Aaron Pitts received 28.85 percent, which will put them on a runoff ballot in August. Forrest Smith came in third place with 18.36 percent, and Jeremiah Loper finished last with 3.30 percent.

In total, 2,669 Kingfisher County Republican residents voted.

Latimer County: Woodruff stays for second term

Sheriff Adam Woodruff is set to serve another term after obtaining 83.06 percent of the vote against opponents Roy Duggan, who earned 11.34 percent, and Dan Linter, who earned 5.61 percent.

In total, 785 Latimer County Republican residents voted.

LeFlore County: Derryberry reelected over two challengers

Sheriff Rodney Derryberry is set to serve a second term as sheriff after receiving 57.92 percent of the vote against opponents Larry Wayne Crossland, who earned 28.21 percent, and Donnie Ray Edwards, who earned 13.87 percent.

In total, 3,042 LeFlore County Republican residents voted.

Lincoln County: Runoff for tight race between Garrett, Bennett

Sheriff Charlie Dougherty chose not to seek reelection after serving 13 years in the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office. Five Republican candidates joined the race to take his place.

Kevin Wayne Garrett, earning 35.10 percent of the vote, and Aaron Bennett, who finished with 35.02 percent, are neck and neck as they head toward an Aug. 27 runoff election. Chad Pavliek came in third with 17.18 percent, followed by Jill Hampton with 7.25 percent and Larry William Stover with 5.44 percent.

In total, 4,632 Lincoln County Republican residents voted.

Love County: Cumberledge elected to serve a full term

Appointed as sheriff after Sheriff Marty Grisham’s death, Andy Ray Cumberledge won a full term Tuesday.

Cumberledge defeated his opponent by earning 74.85 percent of the vote against David Lemons (25.15 percent). In total, 1,034 Love County Republican residents voted. With no other candidates in the race, Cumberledge is set to continue in office.

McCurtain County: Clardy booted as Shirey, Ricketts head to runoff

Bruce W. Shirey, a former McCurtain County deputy sheriff, earned 49.43 percent of the vote and will head to a runoff election against local businessman Jason Ricketts, who obtained 32.31 percent.

Incumbent Sheriff Kevin Clardy, who was caught on a recording talking about lynching Black residents last year, finished last in Tuesday’s election with only 18.26 percent of the primary vote. In total, 2,185 McCurtain County Republican residents voted.

Following the recording, which spread nationwide, Gov. Kevin Stitt called for Clardy’s immediate resignation and asked OSBI to look into the case. After the investigation, Attorney General Genter Drummond said there was “no evidence” of a criminal act in the audio recording and said state law does not allow elected officials to be removed for “merely saying something offensive.”

Ricketts said a contributing factor in his decision to run for the post in far southeast Oklahoma was that he is tired of seeing the county embarrassed on a state and national level.

“Hopefully, I can be able to turn the county around — the sheriff’s office — and bring it to where it is more transparent to the citizens of the county and build back the respect that the sheriff’s office had years ago,” Shirey said.

The winner of the runoff will go on to face Democratic candidate Steve McKee in November.

Major County: Robinson elected for third term

Tony Robinson, the current sheriff, won his third term after earning 57.71 percent of the vote. Robinson defeated undersheriff Wes Mongold, who finished with 42.29 percent support.

In total, 1,854 Major County Republican residents voted.

Marshall County: Yow set for second term

Sheriff Donald Yow obtained 70.73 percent of the vote to defeat opponent Ken Grace, a retired Ardmore police chief, who obtained 29.27 percent. In total, 1,585 Marshall County Republican residents voted.

Donald Yow is set to be on the November ballot against Independent candidate and Marshall County undersheriff Danny Cryer.

Mayes County: Reed elected for another term

Sheriff Mike Reed obtained 72.38 percent of the vote to defeat opponent Ryan Kester, a law enforcement officer at the Grand River Dam Authority, who earned 27.62 percent. In total, 4,196 Mayes County Republican residents voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Reed is set to extend his 12-year tenure as sheriff.

Okfuskee County: Manshack wins tight race

Roy L. Wilburn, the Okfuskee County sheriff appointed to the position in 2023, attempted to run for reelection this year, but he was deemed ineligible for the ballot because he had changed his party affiliation less than six months before the candidate filing period began April 3.

With Wilburn out of the race, Logan Manshack, a deputy at the sheriff’s office, earned 52.46 percent of the vote to defeat his opponent, Ray Barrett, another Okfuskee County deputy sheriff who finished with 47.54 percent.

In total, 509 Okfuskee County Republican citizens voted.

Manshack said Wilburn has agreed to serve as his undersheriff. With no other candidates in the race, Manshack is set to take office in January.

Osage County: Perrier ousts Virden amid lawsuit, BTK drama

Bart Perrier, a special ranger for the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, won 65.97 percent of the vote to unseat incumbent Sheriff Eddie Virden, who lost with 34.02 percent support. In total, 4,000 Osage County residents voted.

Virden’s demise follows a year’s worth of drama related to his belief that the infamous BTK killer from Wichita, Kansas, may have been responsible for some unsolved missing persons cases in Osage County. In October, Virden sued District Attorney Mike Fisher for allegations of defamation and sabotage of an investigation. The case is pending after a May 14 order assigning it to a Washington County judge.

With no other candidates in the race, Perrier is set to take office in January, at which point he will become the first Osage Nation citizen ever to serve as sheriff of Osage County, which shares contiguous boundaries with the sovereign tribal nation.

Pawnee County: Price pushes incumbent Varnell to runoff

Sheriff Darrin Varnell earned only 36.64 percent of the vote Tuesday, sending him into a runoff election against Shawn Price, who finished with 34.3 percent. Rich Ensign is out of the election after earning 29.05 percent.

In total, 1,752 Pawnee County Republican residents voted.

Pittsburg County: Facing felonies, Chris Morris wins reelection

The Pittsburg County sheriff’s race gained additional attention when embezzlement charges were filed against incumbent Sheriff Chris Morris a month before Election Day. Following the charges, the county commissioners requested Morris’ removal from the sheriff’s office, which led to his suspension.

Despite the charges in question — which involve an alleged vehicle scheme — Morris received 56.68 percent of the GOP primary vote against Randy Hass, the son of a former sheriff, who finished with only 43.32 percent. In total, 4,328 Pittsburg County Republican residents voted.

Morris’ position as sheriff now rests with the court, which has scheduled a June 26 preliminary hearing conference for his removal trial.

“I want to thank all of you that supported me and my family through this campaign. You, the people have spoken and voted for proven leadership and experience!” Morris, an aspiring country music singer, wrote in a statement on Facebook. “We will continue to provide the citizens of this county with the best law enforcement it’s ever seen and continue to make your sheriff’s office one of the best in the state! I’m always a call or a message away if you need me! Thank you again and God bless you all!”

Morris faces an Aug. 19 preliminary hearing in the criminal case.

Pottawatomie County: Wood wins over Dinwiddie

Sheriff Mike Booth did not choose to run for another term, drawing Republican candidates undersheriff Travis Dinwiddie and Freeland Wood, a retired lieutenant for the Shawnee Police Department, to file for the position.

Wood won 76.51 percent of the vote, defeating Dinwiddie, who obtained 23.49 percent. In total, 6,463 Pottawatomie County Republican residents voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Wood is set to take office in January.

Pushmataha County: B.J. Hedgecock set to serve third term

Sheriff B.J. Hedgecock, seeking his third term as sheriff, earned 72.23 percent of the vote to defeat his opponent, J. Elvin Roberts, who finished with 27.77 percent. In total, 994 Pushmataha County Republican residents voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Hedgecock is set to begin another term in January.

Roger Mills County: Atha reclaims office

In their second round against each other on the ballot, Darren Atha, a special agent with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, received 57.67 percent of the vote to unseat incumbent Roger Mills County Sheriff Brian Smith, who finished with 42.33 percent.

In 2020, Smith — not to be confused with the “behind the scenes guy” of the same name in Tillman County — defeated Atha buy 21 votes. Atha had been appointed sheriff in 2015, and was elected in 2016 before losing to Smith last cycle.

In total, 814 Roger Mills County Republican residents voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Atha is set to take office in January.

Seminole County: Louie elected to serve full term

Sheriff Anthony Louie, seeking a permanent place in the sheriff’s office after his 2023 appointment, earned 56.6 percent of the vote to defeat Wewoka Police Chief Keith Barkhimer, who won 43.4 percent of the vote. In total, 1,834 Seminole County Republican residents voted.

Louie was appointed last year after former Sheriff Shannon Smith resigned as part of a deferred prosecution agreement with Attorney General Gentner Drummond’s office regarding the use of money from a county deputy support fund.

With no other candidates in the race, Louie is set to start a full term in January.

Stephens County: Lang to succeed former boss

Undersheriff Rick Lang is preparing to take the reins from retired Sheriff Wayne McKinney after obtaining 76.52 percent of the vote and defeating his opponent, Bill Straily, a former Comanche police chief who received 23.48 percent support Tuesday. In total, 5,690 Stephens County Republican residents voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Lang is set to take office in January.

Tillman County: Amid drama, Juanes victorious

The Tillman County sheriff election piqued public interest after candidate Robert Wallace shared a five-part video series to YouTube of his conversation with Bryan Smith. In the videos, Smith called himself the “behind the scenes guy” in Tillman County and attempted to steer Wallace away from the sheriff’s race. Smith tried to convince Wallace that county officials supported his opponent, Oscar Juanes, and that money could be raised to cover Wallace’s campaign expenses if he decided not to file for office. The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation launched an inquiry into potential attempted bribery after the conversation was released.

On June 15, Tillman County incumbent Sheriff Bill Ingram — who had decided not to seek reelection — died in a motorcycle wreck.

Juanes won the primary Tuesday by earning 66.36 percent of the vote compared to Wallace’s 33.64 percent. In total, only 856 Tillman County Republican residents voted.

“To the residents of Tillman County, I deeply appreciate your support throughout the election process and pledge to serve to the best of my abilities. To my wife and family, thank you for supporting me and helping me develop all of the campaign ideas and media,” Juanes wrote in a statement on Facebook. “During my term, I aim to maintain transparency, foster strong community connections, and collaborate equally with all agencies. Let’s work together to ensure Tillman County is a safe and peaceful community. Though this time is exciting for the community, I want to remember and honor Sheriff Ingram and his service to the community.”

Wallace also released a statement on Facebook

“Thank you to all of you who came out and voted. Your support means the world to me and my family as well,” Wallace wrote. “Now we must stand behind our new sheriff and support him in the trying days ahead. Keep him and the entire Tillman County Sheriff Department in your prayers as they navigate the days and weeks ahead.”

Wagoner County: Cooper draws incumbent Elliott into runoff

Incumbent Sheriff Chris Elliott received 48.65 percent of the vote Tuesday, sending him to an Aug. 27 runoff against Tyler Cooper, who earned 33 percent of the vote. Jamie Wheeler is out of the race after receiving 18.36 percent of the vote.

In total, 7,713 Wagoner County Republican residents voted.

Washita County: Rozzell to succeed Reeve

Incumbent Sheriff Roger Reeve chose not to seek another term and drew two Republican candidates to take his place.

Kevin Rozell, a deputy at the Washita County Sheriff’s Office, won 59.46 percent of the vote against deputy sheriff Russell Stewart, who obtained 40.54 percent. In total, 1,285 Washita County Republican residents voted.

With no other candidates in the race, Rozell is set to take office in January.

(Update: This article was updated at 9:20 a.m. Tuesday, June 25, to include additional information about the Canadian and Carter County races. It was updated again on July 7 to include additional information about the Osage County election and to note that DJ Long was declared winner of the Carter County sheriff election following a random drawing.)