Rep. Markwayne Mullin and T.W. Shannon are headed for an Aug. 23 Republican runoff in the Oklahoma Senate special election after emerging as the top two vote recipients in Tuesday’s primary.
Mullin, a five-term House member, consistently led more than a dozen candidates in fundraising and polls during the primary race, but he fell short of the majority needed for an outright win. Shannon, the first Black speaker of the Oklahoma House, finished far behind in second place.
Given the partisan lean of the state, whoever wins the Republican nomination is likely to win the November general election for the seat of Sen. Jim Inhofe (R), who’s resigning two years into his term after holding the seat since a 1994 special election. The nominee will face former Rep. Kendra Horn, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
Those who fell short of making the cut included Scott Pruitt, who was former President Donald Trump’s first EPA administrator, and Luke Holland, Inhofe’s former chief of staff.
The runoff could invite sharper messaging after candidates sought during the primary to define themselves rather than attack each other. The primary candidates touted conservative and religious values and espoused loyalty to Trump — though the former president didn’t endorse in the race.
Outside groups spent about $4 million in the primary, according to independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. That’s far less than in several other competitive Senate races, but likely to rise in the runoff.
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