WASHINGTON, D.C., is dysfunctional and polarized — and, apparently, mighty attractive to Oklahomans of all political stripes.
When the three-day filing period ended Friday, 47 men and women had declared their candidacies for the seven congressional races on the ballot this year. Only one of those candidates, 1st District U.S. Rep. James Bridenstine, has no more work to do. He drew no challenger and thus will automatically return for a second term.
The U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Tom Coburn drew 11 candidates hoping to fill the remaining two years of his term. Seven are Republicans, led by U.S. Rep. James Lankford, of Oklahoma City, and former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, of Lawton. State Sen. Connie Johnson is the best-known of the three Democrats seeking the job.
Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, seeking another full term, drew four Republican challengers. This is somewhat of a surprise given the strong conservative record that has made Inhofe highly popular in Oklahoma. Three independents and one Democrat also want the job. Inhofe has little to fear from any of the challengers at this point.
Twelve candidates are going after the 5th Congressional District job that Lankford is relinquishing in order to run for the Senate. Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas and state Sen. Clark Jolley, both of Edmond, are the front runners among six Republicans in the race. State Sen. Al McCaffrey is one of three Democratic hopefuls; three independents also filed.
3rd District U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, has two Republicans and a Democrat looking to get him out of Washington after 20 years of service. Republican Tom Cole in the 4th District drew four challengers, as did first-term Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin in District 2. None of the three incumbents is expected to have much trouble winning re-election.
All nine statewide offices are on the ballot this year, but three incumbents drew no challengers: Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Treasurer Ken Miller and Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones. The two most crowded fields are those for governor and state schools super-intendent.