The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

February 7, 2014

Two key statewide races should be decided this summer

ENID, Okla. — Results usually come in the November general election, but the most interesting races during this election cycle should be determined much earlier.

That’s because the June 24 primary election for U.S. Senate and state superintendent will decide the Republican nominees virtually assured of victory this fall in statewide races.

U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., announced his intention to run to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee. Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, just announced he’s stepping down to run for Coburn’s seat, too.

In the state superintendent race, Republican incumbent Janet Barresi is facing a serious primary opponent in Joy Hofmeister of Tulsa. Hofmeister, a former public school teacher, was appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin in 2012 to the state school board.

A survey from Harper Polling, a GOP firm, shows some intriguing numbers, according to The Hill. Republican primary voters support Lankford by 54 percent, with Shannon earning just 18 percent with relatively low name recognition.

Then there’s a wildcard factor. If former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts were to enter the race, the former Sooner quarterback would earn 40 percent of the vote compared to Lankford’s 37 percent.

While that development is highly doubtful, The Hill reports another scenario: A Watts endorsement of Shannon would boost the former speaker’s notoriety considerably.

Before launching his Senate campaign, Lankford reportedly had more than $514,000 raised in his war chest, according to The Associated Press. Since Shannon announced for office after 2013, we won’t see his federal campaign finance report until April.

Barresi, an Edmond dentist, is self-financed. According to The Oklahoman, Barresi has loaned herself more than $1 million to her two campaigns — $350,000 last year and $731,345 for her first run, fundraising reports show.

As of Dec. 31, Barresi raised $525,755 while Hofmesiter raised $321,663 last year, The Oklahoman reported.

Stay tuned. These important GOP primaries will be interesting, with runoffs set for August (if necessary).

If there are any willing Democrats capable of winning a statewide race this election cycle, please show us, because we can’t think of anyone.

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