Superintendent, three other statewide races to GOP runoff | Govt-and-politics

Unofficial returns indicate that Oklahoma Republican voters will need to go back to the polls in August to select their nominees for four statewide offices, including state superintendent.

With more than 95% of precincts reporting as of press time, State Secretary of Education Ryan Walters finished atop a four-candidate field Tuesday for the Republican nomination for state superintendent with more than 41% of the votes counted.

Since no one candidate received a majority, though, both Walters and current Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent April Grace will advance to a runoff election, scheduled for Aug. 23. As of press time, Grace finished second with 30.53% of the votes cast.

Peggs Superintendent John Cox finished third with 24.41% of the votes counted as of press time, while Union City resident William Crozier finished fourth with 3.74%.

A supporter of the school choice movement, Walters actively advocated during the 2022 legislative session for Senate Bill 1647, which would have offered parents direct access to state funds that could then be used for private school tuition or other educational expenses.

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“We heard Oklahomans say that we are going to be leaders in education,” Walters said. “We are going to empower parents with more choice in their students’ education. We are going to reject critical race theory or any far left, woke ideology.”

Grace has worked in education for more than 30 years across four school districts. She was named the 2021 State Superintendent of the Year by the Oklahoma Association of School Administrators.

“I feel great and blessed to be in the runoff,” she said. “I knew that John Cox and I would probably split the vote among educators and anticipated that this race would need a runoff. I’m just fortunate to be in that runoff, and I look forward to making more connections with people.”

The winner of the August runoff will face Democrat Jena Nelson, Oklahoma’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, in the Nov. 8 general election.

State auditor and inspector

Incumbent Cindy Byrd defeated former Tulsa Public Schools administrator Steve McQuillen in the Republican primary Tuesday night for State Auditor and Inspector.

As of press time, Byrd led McQuillen 231,851 to 99,868 with 95% of precincts reporting statewide.

No Democrats, Libertarians or independents filed for the position, thus earning Byrd another term.

State treasurer

Receiving almost 49% of the votes counted as of press time, term-limited state Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, narrowly missed winning the Republican nomination outright among a three-candidate field for state treasurer.

Instead, he will join former Oklahoma Tax Commission Chairman and state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond in the August runoff. Jolley received 33.48% of the votes counted as of press time, while former Oklahoma County Clerk David Hooten finished third with 17.55%.

Hooten resigned as Oklahoma County clerk in mid June after audio surfaced in which he laid out plans for a “staff outing” that involved drinking and gambling and claimed that he was genetically altered not to be affected by alcohol.

State labor commissioner

Incumbent Leslie Osborne and term-limited state Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, will advance to the August runoff for labor commissioner.

With 95% of precincts reporting statewide as of press time, Osborne received 152,348 votes, or 47.67%, while Roberts received 122,699 votes, or 38.39%.

Norman postal worker Keith Swinton finished third with 44,537, or 13.94%.

State corporation commissioner

Term-limited state Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, and former state Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, will advance to the Aug. 23 runoff after finishing first and second among four candidates for a vacant seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

With 95% of the precincts reporting as of press time, David received 125,547 votes or 40.91% of the votes counted, while Thomsen earned 25.94%.

Justin Hornback, a pipeline welder and union organizer, finished third with 20.45% of the votes counted as of press time, while Harold Spradling finished fourth with just under 13%.

The three-member commission’s responsibilities include oil and gas regulation, pipelines, railroads, investor-owned utilities and motor carriers.

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