Oklahoma Indian candidates move ahead to runoff, general elections
|Posted: August 20, 2008|
|by: Brian Daffron / Today correspondent|
|TULSA, Okla. - Supporters of Seneca Scott gathered around a large dry-erase whiteboard on the evening of Oklahoma's July 29 Democratic primary elections. They watched as tallies from the different voting precincts of House District 72 were phoned in and added, then erased and changed over and over again. |
By 8 p.m. and a final adding of absentee ballot counts, the vote count was final, leaving Scott with 42.4 percent of the vote and sending him in an Aug. 26 runoff election against second-place candidate Christie Breedlove, who won 28.6 percent of the vote. With no Republican running for this open seat, the winner of the runoff will face independent challenger Lawrence Kirkpatrick in the November general election.
Scott, an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation, began his race for the Oklahoma House of Representatives last August on his 30th birthday, running on a platform based on environmental and community sustainability and an uplifting sense of community renewal.
''It's a lot of hard work,'' Scott said about his campaign. ''Sitting here, the results are really a tribute and testimony to that hard work - listening to people and putting in the time instead of just fly-by-night politics. People want to be heard, and that takes a little bit of second step, second effort. I'd also say it's one of those things where family and friends really come in, those old relationships you have, people who you can count on to come out and do hard work for you, and people who believe in the vision.''
He also said that his strategy going into the runoff election would be to keep working within his district to convince voters that he is their candidate.
''I think we'll continue to do what we've done, which is spend the time listening to folks, asking for their vote, and letting them know that we're willing to put the time in to do the hard, creative work that needs to be done to address our challenges.''
Winning their Democratic primaries outright were Cherokee Nation member Bob Murphy and Rep. Anastasia Pittman, a freedman member of the Seminole Nation. Murphy, D-Stillwater, won his primary with 63.48 percent of the vote and will face Republican Jim Halligan in an open seat election for the Oklahoma State Senate District 21. Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, running as a first-term incumbent for Oklahoma House District 99, won with a landslide 91.5 percent of the vote and will face Republican Willard Linzy in November.
Although many Native candidates in Oklahoma went uncontested in their primaries, these candidates will have to face at least one challenger in the November general election. In Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District, Chickasaw tribal member Tom Cole, R-Moore, will face Democrat Blake Cummings and Independent David Joyce in November. Also running unopposed in the primary was Oklahoma state senator and Cherokee Nation member Nancy Riley, D-Tulsa. Riley will face Republican challenger Dan Newberry in the general election.
The majority of the Native candidates who went unopposed in the primary but who will face an opponent in the November general election are running for seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. These include District 36 first-term incumbent and Osage tribal member Scott BigHorse, D-Pawhuska, who is now running against Republican challenger Eddie Fields for a second time; Cherokee Eugene Blakenship, D-Muskogee, who will run against Republican incumbent George Faught for House District 14; District 37 incumbent and Cherokee tribal member Ken Luttrell, D-Ponca City, whose Republican challenger is Brent Colle; Assistant House Floor Leader Jerry McPeak, D-Warner, a Muscogee Creek Nation member running against Republican Debbie Lienhart; Cherokee Nation member and journalist Bill Snyder, D-Oologah, who is challenging Republican incumbent Tad Jones for House District 9; and Lisa Billy, R-Purcell, a Chickasaw Nation member who serves as House deputy whip and vice chair of the Republican Caucus. Billy will face Democratic challenger Brad Perry in the general election.
Two Native incumbents went both unopposed in their primary and will go unopposed in November, thus winning second terms outright. Chuck Hoskin, D-Vinita, who served as a Cherokee Nation council member before running for his first term in 2006, will serve as the District 6 representative for another two years. Choctaw member Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City, will also serve a second term to represent House District 88 after successfully contesting the validity of an independent challenger's campaign, according to campaign consultant Linda Murphy. She said that the reason for the challenge before the Oklahoma State Election Board was that McAffrey's opponent had switched party affiliations from Democrat to Independent after the state's deadline.