Wednesday, June 15, 2022

How I think the Senate and CD2 races currently stand

We're now less than two weeks from the 2022 primary election, so I thought I'd write my take on the two most competitive and crowded races attracting attention in the state.

Michael Bates posted recently about his view that conservatives voters should hold off on picking a candidate until the pre-primary picture is a little more clear:

Because only two candidates can advance to the August runoff, conservative voters will need to consolidate around a single champion in the primary to have any hope of having someone worth voting for in the runoff. Polling and spending will be important factors for casting a strategic vote in June. I've been encouraging absentee voters to hold off voting until we have a clearer picture of the battlefield. The pre-election FEC reports will be telling. Sooner Poll polled this race and other statewide and congressional races, but they only managed a sample of 306 voters over a 17-day period, and 31.4% of voters were undecided. [emphasis mine; original post here at]

As Bates points out, the pending FEC reports and further public polling (which has been completely nonexistent in the CD2 race) will help give a clearer picture of both of the very crowded open Senate and CD2 races.

As it currently stands, I would sort the two races into the following tiers. With thirteen and fourteen candidates, respectively, the gap between 1st and 6th could be very small (particularly in the CD2 race).

U.S. Senate, unexpired term:

  • First tier: Markwayne Mullin. Mullin is the clear leader, both in polling and money. He loaned his campaign at least one million dollars... tells you how much he wants the seat, plus he transferred over more than that from his House account, giving him a huge money advantage over the rest of the field.

    As I've pointed out numerous times, Mullin is not worth voting for dog-catcher, much less U.S. Senate. He's a liar, and the man's word means nothing to him.
    Unfortunately, he's the only candidate with at least a chance at clearing the 50%+1 mark to avoid a runoff.

  • Second tier: T.W. Shannon and Nathan Dahm. Shannon is the clearly best positioned to force a runoff, but I think Dahm has the potential for making it close for second-place. I expected Shannon to do better than he seems to have done so far, but that's partly (mostly?) a symptom of how crowded the field is.

  • Third tier: Luke Holland, Scott Pruitt, Randy Grellner, and Alex Gray. Holland by virtue of the big-bucks he's raised from Inhofe's circle, though the Inhofe endorsement seems to have been completely and totally ineffective for him. Pruitt has a name recognition benefit, and Grellner dropped a cool $786k into a (very amateurish, poorly filmed) ad buy; money can buy some votes. Gray has a lot of DC endorsements, but just hasn't seemed to catch any traction.

  • Fourth tier: much further back are all the rest (Coibion, Garrison, Holley, Moreno, Royse, Tompkins). Being on the ballot gets you a few votes, which may assist those hoping to force a runoff.

2nd Congressional District:
  • First tier: Avery Frix, Marty Quinn, Chris Schiller. Frix and Schiller likely have the money advantage over the rest of the field; both gave their campaigns at least $200k, and both have tapped into fundraising channels (Schiller with the pharmaceutical industry, Frix with transportation/Chamber donors).

    Frix also has dark money groups helping him out. Quinn, while not raising as much money, is best positioned geographically, as his State Senate District (centered around Claremore) is located in the GOP heart of CD2, where his name recognition and legislative service will benefit him. Muskogee has three locals running (Frix, Schiller, Teehee), which will hurt all three to a significant degree. 

    I'll have more to say another day on why real conservatives should be strongly opposed to a Frix candidacy.

  • Second tier: Josh Brecheen, Johnny Teehee, Guy Barker. The gap between the top two tiers is not huge, but I think there is a slight break between the two.

    Brecheen has a solid core of support in his old Senate district around Durant and Atoka, plus a lot of old Coburn supporters throughout the District. He will probably be much further down the list in fundraising, but don't count out his grassroots strength.

    Teehee has a more unique background among this field, but his home base of Muskogee will be severely divided. He raised a good chunk of money, in part due to personal loans. Barker is something of a dark-horse candidate. He's pumped in to his campaign at least $100k personally based on a new "last-minute" contribution report. He's on TV, and I think I've received more mail from his campaign than any other (with the possible exception of Avery Frix). I can definitely picture him making some moves.

    Brecheen and Barker seem to be focusing, more than any of the others, on fiscal policy issues. Most of the rest are echoing the same things: red-meat, Trump support, social issues, political fad topics, "safe" things that literally all the candidates agree on. Brecheen and Barker are talking national debt, government spending, the GOP's past complicity in those problems, and the like... which is what I want to hear candidates talk about.

  • Third tier: Dustin Roberts, David Derby, John Bennett. I think there's a noticeable distance between the second and third tier.

    Roberts raised a decent amount of money in the first quarter, and as a 12-year state representative he's got name recognition and support in Bryan County. He will both hurt and be hurt by Josh Brecheen, as they share a common geographic base.

    Derby... I'm not entirely sure where to put him. His legislative district barely had any CD2 precincts, so I don't know that his legislative ballot experience will help him that much. I do think he'll likely raise some money to be decently competitive in the northern part of the district. John Bennett will have a base of support in the Sallisaw area, plus some GOP activists throughout the district, but I think he's distinctly behind the top tiers.

  • Fourth tier: Pamela Gordon, Wes Nofire. The gap between the third and fourth tiers is probably smaller than between any of the others.

    Gordon seems to be running a pretty professional campaign. We don't have fundraising reports for her yet, but based on low name recognition and the relative powerhouses in the above tiers, I think she's probably in this level. Nofire is a current Cherokee tribal councilor, so he's proven he can get votes, but I think he's outclassed in this fight.

  • Fifth tier: Rhonda Hopkins, Erick Wyatt, Clint Johnson. Every vote these candidates get (which won't be much, combined) will contribute to forcing a runoff.

That's my current take on these races. With fundraising reports coming soon, and I anticipate at least some polling (there has been no public CD2 poll released as of yet), and with continued campaigning by all of these candidates, the state of the race still has plenty of time to change.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment, and share this article with your friends.


  1. What about the other Senate Race-Lanford and Jackson Laymeyer.

    1. I was focusing on the CD2 and open Senate races as they are competitive and crowded, almost guaranteed to go to runoffs.

      The Lankford seat would be three tiers:

      First tier: James Lankford. He'll get close to 70% of the vote, no contest.
      Second tier: Jackson Lahmeyer. Lots of noise, lots of wasted time, money, and effort. May get around 20% of the vote.
      Third tier: Joan Farr. An entertaining and flamboyant candidate that will get a couple percentage points in both her Oklahoma and Kansas Senate campaigns.

  2. I disagree, I believe Bennett, Frix, and Brecheen are in the top tier and I agree with you on Frix -- I did not know about the dark money, but I am aware of dark tactics. I don't believe Pamela Gordon is in the last tier either, she's had a huge appeal to all our GOP voters in southeastern Oklahoma. I have a couple other minor disagreements on positioning, but mostly agree with the rest of what you predicted.

    1. I disagree with anonymous. I know who the person is.

    2. I agree also, I’d put BRECHEEN and Bennett in the top tier, but of course I’m for BRECHEEN.
      Patrick Guinn

  3. This assessment completely underestimates John Bennett's and Nathan Dahm's position in CD2 races. Mark Wayne Mullin has lost support in his local community of Stilwell. TW Shannon shot himself in the foot with his support of McGirt Decision.

    1. Dahm is running for Senate, not CD2. I just haven't seen enough ground support for Bennett yet, but could be wrong (out-of-state endorsements rarely turn into in-district votes). I certainly hope Mullin has lost support. Concur on Shannon; McGirt is a horrible decision.

    2. Oops, thanks for the correction. I didn't separate the distinction of seats. :-)

  4. Lankford vs. Lahmeyer will be much closer, in my opinion. Lahmeyer has generated considerable enthusiasm and has worked extremely hard. A recent poll (see his Facebook page) showed it 46-41 with 17% undecided. That may be overly optimistic, but probably closer to reality than 70% Lankford.


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