Race for governor already crowded
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.