Former House Speaker Todd Hiett will be the newest member of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission after beating term-limited Sen. Cliff Branan in the GOP primary Tuesday.
With all precincts reporting, Hiett had 128,083 votes, or 52 percent. Branan had 117,086, or 48 percent.
Since no Democrats or independents filed for the position, Hiett will take office in January. He will replace Patrice Douglas, who made a runoff in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District in central Oklahoma.
“Statewide elections are difficult, but it’s a very gratifying win,” said Hiett, who lost to Democrat Jari Askins in the race for lieutenant governor in 2006. “I think voters in Oklahoma agreed with our message and the need to push back against an overly aggressive federal government.”
Hiett, 46, said it was important to keep utility rates low, not only for customers but for businesses.
“The importance of the Corporation Commission is more significant than ever because the federal government is so driven to make decisions for Oklahoma,” Hiett said.
Branan, 53, said he was impressed with Hiett’s campaign and called to congratulate him about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. It was the first statewide race for Branan, who is term-limited after serving 12 years in the state Senate.
“He will make an excellent Corporation Commissioner, and if asked, I will do whatever I can to help him,” Branan said. “It was such an honor to run statewide. It was a wonderful, happy experience, and it was great to meet people who are growing businesses.”
Both Hiett and Branan focused on job creation and beating back what they called over-regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, especially in air-quality rules that affect electric utilities.
The race turned negative in the final weeks, with the candidates trading barbs over Hiett’s service on the board of a bank that participated in a part of the federal Troubled Assets Relief Program following the 2008 financial crisis. They also sparred over ratings from the Oklahoma Sierra Club.
Hiett will serve a six-year term and join two other Republicans, Bob Anthony and Dana Murphy, on the three-person Oklahoma Corporation Commission. The body regulates much of the state economy.