OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The four candidates facing runoffs for a congressional seat in eastern Oklahoma must spend time and money in the next two months fighting candidates from their own parties — and surviving —before turning attention to the Nov. 6 general election.
Two Democrats and two Republicans seeking to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla., in the sprawling congressional district in eastern Oklahoma will continue to battle until the Aug. 28 primary runoff election.
On the Republican side of the 2nd District race, three-term state Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, faces plumbing company owner and CEO Markwayne Mullin of Westville. Mullin captured 42 percent of the vote in the six-man GOP primary, while Faught finished with 23 percent.
The runoff gives candidates an opportunity to sharpen their messages to voters.
“(The campaign) doesn’t change for us,” said Mullin, who loaned his campaign $235,000 and spent more than twice as much as Faught. “We had a game plan, what I call our business plan, set in September 2011, and it goes all the way through Nov. 8. We’re going to continue to tell our story and talk about what needs to be done to get the economy back on track.”
Mullin, a political newcomer, has touted his business experience as the head of a company with more than 100 employees and the problems he’s had dealing with bureaucratic red tape with federal agencies like the Department of Labor and Environmental Protection Agency.
Faught, who represents a heavily Democratic district in Muskogee, has talked up his experience as a lawmaker and his ability to appeal to voters in a congressional district where registered Democrats have a 2-to-1 registration advantage over Republicans.
“The core messages stay the same,” Faught said. “Obviously now, with just two candidates, you do draw the comparison and point out the experience I have as a legislator and chairman of the Administrative Rules and Government Oversight Committee.”
The last-place candidate in the GOP primary, Fort Gibson minister Dwayne Thompson, announced his support for Mullin, but the other Republican candidates said Friday they hadn’t made a decision on whether to endorse one of their formal rivals.
On the Democratic side, the owner of a Muskogee-based seed company, Wayne Herriman, will continue his primary battle against former state and federal prosecutor Rob Wallace of Fort Gibson. Wallace was the early favorite in the race, but Herriman proved to be an effective fundraiser, amassing more than $300,000 with the help of a $195,000 personal loan to his campaign.
Herriman launched an attack ad late in the primary that labeled Wallace a “deadbeat” politician over a lawsuit filed in the 1990s against a company in which Wallace had an ownership interest, and Wallace said that was enough to push voters toward Earl Everett, a retired educator who didn’t mount much of a campaign but managed to capture more than 12 percent of the vote.
“Any time you have three names on the ballot … if you make enough of the voters mad they’re going to look for another place to go,” Wallace said. “They were looking for a third place to go, and there was a third place to go.”
Wallace got 46 percent to Herriman’s 42 percent, pushing both men into an Aug. 28 winner-take-all runoff.
Independent Michael Fulks of Heavener awaits the two primary winners in the November general election.
There also will be eight primary runoffs for open state legislative seats — four each in the Senate and House. All of the primary runoffs feature Republican candidates, except for the race for the open House District 88 seat in Oklahoma City, where Democrats Kay Floyd and Mike Dover are looking to replace former state Rep. Al McAffrey, who won a special election earlier this year for an open Senate seat.
The GOP primary runoffs in the Senate include Rob Standridge and Jack Beller for the Senate District 15 seat in Norman; Ron Sharp and Ed Moore for the District 17 seat in Oklahoma and Pottawatomie counties; Nathan Dahm and Tim Wright for the District 33 seat in Tulsa; and Corey Brooks and Peggy Davenport for the new District 43 seat that includes McClain County and portions of Garvin, Grady and Stephens counties.
Republican primary runoffs in the House include Jerry Rains and Bobby Jefferson for the District 14 seat in Muskogee; Mark McBride and Paula Sullivan for the District 53 seat in Moore; and Ken Walker and Shane Saunders for the District 70 post in Tulsa.