Race for gov­er­nor al­ready crowded

Pol­i­tics

Tulsa World - - Front Page - By Randy Kre­hbiel

If ev­ery­one who says they're run­ning for gov­er­nor ac­tu­ally files for the of­fice next spring, Ok­la­homa could be in for its most crowded and en­ter­tain­ing gu­ber­na­to­rial race in more than 30 years.

Twelve peo­ple — six Repub­li­cans, three Democrats and three Lib­er­tar­i­ans — have reg­is­tered gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paigns with the Ok­la­homa Ethics Com­mis­sion. A 13th, Demo­crat Nor­man Jay Brown of Ok­la­homa City, is reg­is­tered but says he's no longer a can­di­date.

Should all 12 cur­rent can­di­dates fol­low through and of­fi­cially file for of­fice in April, it would be the most in­di­vid­u­als to for­mally seek the gov­er­nor's man­sion since 1986, when six Democrats, five Repub­li­cans and two in­de­pen­dents signed up to suc­ceed term-lim­ited Ge­orge Nigh. That elec­tion was held in the trough of a deep re­ces­sion that trig­gered state

bud­get fail­ures and tax in­creases.

Henry Bell­mon, elected Ok­la­homa's first Repub­li­can gov­er­nor in 1962 and later a two-term U.S. sen­a­tor, came out of semire­tire­ment to de­feat Demo­crat David Wal­ters by 3 per­cent­age points, with two in­de­pen­dents tak­ing 8 per­cent of the vote.

The 2018 elec­tion could also be the first in 80 years, and only the sec­ond ever, with a third-party gu­ber­na­to­rial pri­mary.

Mi­nor par­ties were com­mon in Ok­la­homa's early years, and in­de­pen­dents have played im­por­tant roles in some more re­cent elec­tions, but with three de­clared can­di­dates the Lib­er­tar­i­ans could be­come the first third party to war­rant a pri­mary since 1938.

That year, Fran­cis M. Simp­son de­feated Ralph But­ter­field 98-72 for the Pro­hi­bi­tion Party gu­ber­na­to­rial nom­i­na­tion.

Alas, the vic­tory came to naught for Simp­son, the Pro­gres­sive Party can­di­date four years ear­lier. For some rea­son he was re­placed on the 1938 Pro­hi­bi­tion Party ticket by John Wes­ley Lan­ham, who re­ceived 0.5 per­cent of the gen­eral elec­tion vote.

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