Early voting for the party primary elections ended Saturday with 170 Republicans and 66 Democrats casting ballots in Stephens County.
The numbers didn’t wow local operatives in either of the political parties.
“It’s not more than we’ve had in the past,” said Republican National Committeeman Steve Fair.
Fair said it is difficult to judge whether the early turnout indicates light participaton on Tuesday because lawmakers eliminated Monday as an early voting day. Fair thinks some voters didn’t realize they can’t vote early on Monday.
On the Democratic side, party activist Kenneth Wells noted there are only three contested races on the Democratic ballot so voter interest is not at a high level.
“It’s probably a good indication how voting will be on Tuesday,” said Wells.
The Republican races are more lively.
There is intense interest not only in Oklahoma but among political watchers in Washington in the competition for the U.S. Senate seat held by Tom Coburn.
“It’s going to be a horse race,” said Fair. “I certainly believe it will be a runoff.”
Six candidates are vying for the nomination. Coburn decided to retire early at the end of the year. U.S. Rep. James Lankford of Edmond, and State Rep. T.W. Shannon of Lawton are the acknowledged front-runners.
Fair said he thinks it possible one and perhaps two other candidates will get double digit percentages in the race.
Former State Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso, who lost to Mary Fallin during Fallin’s first run for governor, is running third in the contest, according to poll results.
Another statewide race that is drawing interest is the primary battle for superintendent of public instruction.
Incumbent Janet Barresi, a dentist who has spent more than $1 million of her own money in the race, is fighting off a challenge from Joy Hofmeister, a Tulsa businesswoman who also is a former teacher and a former state board of education member. Brian S. Kelly, a teacher and football coach, also is in the race.
Four Democrats are running for the state superintendent nomination: John Cox, a school superintendent and educator, Fran Deskin, a charter school CEO and former teacher, Jack Herron, the former superintendent of Duncan schools, and Ivan Holmes, a retired college professor who is the former state chairman of the Democratic Party.
The energy industry, meanwhile, will be watching the race for corporation commissioner. Cliff Brannan, a state senator and commercial real estate broker, and Todd Hiett, a rancher who is a former Oklahoma House speaker and nominee for lieutenant governor in 2006, are seeking the nomination to replace Patrice Douglas, who is running for the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Lankford.
Also on the Republican ballot:
n Gov. Mary Fallin, who is seeking her second term against Chad Moody, an attorney and marijuana legalization activist, and Dax Ewbank, a technology professional and Libertarian activist.
n U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, who is running for re-election against four challengers.
n U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, who seeking re-election to the District 4 seat against challenger Anna Flatt, a property manager who chairs the Carter County Republican Party.
n Insurance Commissioner John Doak, who is running for re-election against insurance consultant Bill Viner
Contested races on the Democratic Party ballot:
n The race to nominate a candidate for the remaining U.S. Senate term of incumbent Republican Tom Coburn. State Sen. Connie Johnson, D-Oklahoma City, is running against Jim Rogers, a retired teacher, and Patrick Hayes.
n A two-man race to determine a nominee for the 4th Congressional District between Tae Si, a software engineer and businessman, and Bert Smith, a teacher, financial consultant, Vietnam War veteran and frequent candidate.