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Tulsa County Commissioner results
Top: Sarah Gray and Maria Barnes advanced to a Democratic runoff in August for the District 2 seat on the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners. On bottom, Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) and Melissa Myers advanced to the Republican runoff for the same open seat. (NonDoc)

On a night when five people won legislative seats in the Tulsa area and four other Senate and House primary contests moved forward for further campaigning, Tulsa County commissioner results narrowed the field to succeed District 2 Commissioner Karen Keith and set up a pair of Aug. 27 runoffs.

After a two-month campaign officially kicked off in April with competing three-way primaries, Democrats Sarah Gray and Maria Barnes joined Republicans Lonnie Sims and Melissa Myers by advancing in the race for Tulsa County Board of Commissioners District 2. Since no candidate in either primary achieved a majority, the top two vote earners in each primary advanced to a runoff.

Gray topped the Democratic primary with 2,149 votes (37.7 percent) and will advance to a runoff alongside Barnes, who received 1,907 votes (33.4 percent). Keith’s chief deputy, Jim Rea, garnered 1,652 votes (28.9 percent) and missed the runoff.

On the Republican side, current state Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) and Melissa Myers advanced to the August runoff election. Sims received 2,825 votes (40.3 percent), and Myers garnered 2,205 votes (31.5 percent). Tulsa City Councilwoman Jeannie Cue missed the runoff by just 230 ballots after receiving 1,975 votes (28.2 percent).

Results and vote totals are unofficial until certified. Runoff elections will be held Aug. 27, with early voting set for Aug. 22-24. Those dates will also serve as the opening round of voting for Tulsa municipal races — including mayor — meaning electoral turnout could be higher in the District 2 runoffs than in Tuesday’s primary.

Whoever wins the two runoffs will advance to a November ballot that also features independent Josh Turley of Sand Springs. Turley is on his third campaign for county commissioner, having previously been the Republican nominee to face Keith in 2016 and 2020.

Sims, Myers advance to Republican runoff

Rep. Lonnie Sims and Melissa Myers advanced to an Aug. 27, 2024, runoff in the race for District 2 on the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners. (NonDoc)

After a hard-fought Republican primary focused on the Gilcrease Expressway toll road, Rep. Lonnie Sims and Melissa Myers advanced to an Aug. 27 runoff.

Sims currently serves in the state House after winning his first election in 2018, but he opted to run for county commissioner this cycle after falling short in a bid to be named House speaker. Prior to his legislative career, Sime served on the Jenks City Council and later as the city’s mayor between 2013 and 2015. He also served six years on the Jenks Planning Commission. He graduated from Oklahoma State University in 1994.

“Thank you all for the incredible support,” Sims wrote on Facebook with three exclamation points. “We are thrilled to announce that we won the primary tonight for Tulsa County Commissioner — District 2, and it’s all because of God’s grace and your hard work, but our journey is not over yet. We now gear-up for the runoff Aug. 27 and need all hands on deck to carry us through to the Republican nomination and the general election Nov. 5.”

Myers is a political newcomer who owns a lawncare business in Berryhill. In a testament to the power of single-issue campaigning, Myers focused heavily on opposition to the existing Gilcrease Expressway turnpike to the point that the issue dominated a Republican primary debate.

While Sims’ legislative experience made him a favorite to advance Tuesday, Myers beat out Tulsa City Councilwoman Jeannie Cue in a minor political upset. Cue has served on the Tulsa City Council since 2012. Despite Cue claiming the endorsement of Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum, her campaign struggled for support against Sims and Myers in Tulsa.

“The hard work has paid off tonight,” Myers wrote on Facebook. “More work ahead that I’m so ready for. I’m very humbled by all the support. Sand Springs, Berryhill & West Tulsa showed up in a big way for me today.”

Sarah Gray, Maria Barnes advance to runoff

From left: Democrats Sarah Gray and Maria Barnes advanced to an Aug. 27, 2024, runoff in the race for District 2 on the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners. (NonDoc)

After a marathon of last-minute door knocking by campaigns and a mess of mailers from a mysterious political action committee based out of an old FedEx building in Ardmore, two Democrats advanced to an August runoff to determine their party’s nominee for Tulsa County commissioner: Sarah Gray and Maria Barnes.

Underscoring the term “dark money,” it is unclear who is behind OKFAPCPAC, but all of the mailers sent by the organization opposed Democratic candidate Jim Rea. One supported Barnes specifically, while another recommended either Gray or Barnes over Rea, who was believed to have the deepest pockets for a November matchup with the Republican nominee. The either Gray or Barnes nature of the OKFAPCPAC mailers spurred some speculation that perhaps a Republican operative had decided to play in the Democratic primary. Or, supporters of either Gray or Barnes could have viewed the other as a preferred runoff opponent to Rea.

Whatever the case, Gray is a communications specialist who worked on Michael Bloomberg’s 2020 presidential campaign as the state director of communications and several other political campaigns in the state. While not new to politics, this is her first campaign for political office.

Gray’s campaign has focused on criticizing the current administration of county government, especially over allegations of systemic sexual assault at the Tulsa County Juvenile Center. She also recently weighed into the Tulsa mayoral race by endorsing Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) on Twitter.

Gray appeared to celebrate her advancement Tuesday night by tweeting “lol,” but her statements on Facebook were more detailed.

“As you may have seen, we’re not just in a runoff for the Democratic nomination for Tulsa County Commissioner — we’re in first place,” Gray wrote on Facebook. “This moment reflects our community’s call for accountable and transparent governance that serves the people, not special interests. Our time is now.”

As of 8 a.m. Wednesday, Barnes had not referenced the primary results on her Facebook page.

Barnes was born in Tulsa and raised in California, but she moved back to the city in 1982. She served on the Tulsa City Council between 2006 and 2011 and ran two campaigns for House District 72 losing to Monroe Nichols in 2016 and 2020.

Rea, who serves as Karen Keith’s deputy county commissioner, claimed the endorsements of Reps. Amanda Swope (D-Tulsa) and John Waldron (D-Tulsa), but his relatively recent move from Dallas drew criticisms of “carpetbagging.”

Tulsa County clerk race set for November

The Tulsa County clerk election between incumbent Republican Michael Willis and Democrat Don Nuam also kicked off back in April when they were the only candidates to file for the office.

Willis is a Cherokee Nation citizen and has held the county clerk’s office since 2017. He worked for the county before his election and has been a volunteer Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office reserve deputy since 2009.

Nuam was born in Myanmar and grew up under the country’s military dictatorship. Her family immigrated to the United States when she was 9, and she has lived in Tulsa since 2008. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology and is active in Oklahoma’s Burmese diaspora community.

The 2024 election cycle is already over for Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado and County Court Clerk Don Newberry after they were reelected without opposition back in April.

Tulsa-area legislative races: 5 conclude, 3 head to runoffs

A slate of primaries also unfolded Tuesday in Tulsa-area districts of the Oklahoma Legislature. When the votes had been counted, five contests featured primary decisions that also spelled overall victory:

  • SD 11: Rep. Regina Goodwin (D-Tulsa) overwhelmingly beat Joe Williams in the Democratic primary to move from the House to the Senate. She will be the fourth senator in a row to make the move from HD 73 to SD 11. The north Tulsa seat was open because Sen. Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa) was term limited;
  • HD 67: Minister and electrical engineer Rob Hall won the south Tulsa district outright in a four-way GOP primary. No other candidate filed for the seat, so Hall will be HD 67’s new representative barring a successful recount challenge by one of his opponents. Hall barely cleared the 50 percent threshold required to win the primary and avoid a runoff, garnering 50.68 percent of the vote. Incumbent Rep. Boatman ran for SD 25, but lost the primary;
  • HD 68: Businessman Mike Lay beat Jonathan Grable to represent the open Jenks-area seat that has been held by Sims for three terms. No other candidate filed in the race, so Lay — a founding member of Victory Christian Church whose son leads the local firefighters union — will be HD 68’s next representative;
  • HD 72: Educator Michelle McCane beat Adam Martin to represent the open north Tulsa seat. No one else filed for the seat, so McCane will become HD 72’s next representative. Incumbent Rep. Monroe Nichols is running for mayor of Tulsa; and
  • HD 73: Firefighter Ron Stewart narrowly beat Darrell Knox to represent the open north Tulsa district, which is being vacated as Goodwin heads to the State Senate.

Meanwhile, four other Tulsa-area State Senate seats saw primaries Tuesday night that will either head to a runoff or general elections:

  • SD 25:Bixby Mayor Brian Guthrie defeated Rep. Jeff Boatman (R-Tulsa) in a contentious Republican primary for the south Tulsa and Bixby-based seat. He will face Democratic candidate and former Rep. Karen Gaddis in the November election to succeed Sen. Joe Newhouse (R-Tulsa);
  • SD 33:Christi Gillespie and Shelley Gwartney advanced from a four-way primary to a Republican runoff in the Broken Arrow race to succeed Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Tulsa), who was term limited this year. The winner of the August Republican runoff will face Democratic candidate Bob Willis in November; and
  • SD 37: Incumbent Sen. Cody Rogers (R-Tulsa) lost his reelection campaign by 84 votes to Aaron Reinhardt, a commercial insurance agent and guidance counselor. Now that he has bested Rogers — who originally announced a campaign for Tulsa County commissioner District 2 before changing his mind and seeking another Senate term — Reinhardt will face independent Andrew Nutter in November.
  • HD 98: Rep. Dean Davis (R-Broken Arrow) received one more vote than his closest opponent in Tuesday’s primary election, but he did not win a majority. Instead, he will head to a runoff against Gabe Woolley in August. Davis, who was a Broken Arrow public school teacher and coach before being elected in 2019, received 911 votes, or 42.41 percent. Woolley, an area elementary school teacher who hosts two podcasts, received 910 votes, or 42.36 percent. The Aug. 27 winner will face Democrat Cathy Smythe in the Nov. 5 general election.

(Update: This article was updated at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday, June 19, to include reference to an additional Tulsa-area runoff election.)