FOR all practical purposes, the makeup of Oklahoma’s 2015-16 congressional delegation will be decided Tuesday, with the definite exception of one U.S. House seat and the possible exception of one of the two U.S. Senate races.
In a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 24 years, the Republican primary and (sometimes) runoff effectively determines who will represent Oklahoma in Congress. For Republicans, then, voting Tuesday is critical.
One of the five U.S. House seats has already been filled: No one filed against Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa. Incumbent Reps. Frank Lucas, of Cheyenne, Tom Cole, of Moore, and Markwayne Mullin, of Westville, have challengers in the Republican primary. Cole, Lucas and Mullin deserve another term.
A six-way Republican race in the 5th Congressional District will almost certainly result in a runoff. The winner of that contest, in August, will almost certainly win in November. The Oklahoman makes no recommendation in this race, ahead of the runoff.
A runoff also is possible in the race for a two-year term in the U.S. Senate. If so, U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, and state Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, will be the two finishers.
In the other Senate race, veteran Jim Inhofe should be the easy winner in the primary and in November, despite drawing as challengers one Democrat, four Republicans and three independents. The Oklahoman enthusiastically endorses Inhofe.
We also support Lankford, finding in him the rare ability to transcend conservative dogma without abandoning conservative principles. He offers a one-two punch of statesmanship and political skills with a focus on policymaking rather than partisanship.
This is also a year when most statewide offices will be on the ballot and the Republican nominee will be the automatic front-runner heading into November. Attorney General Scott Pruitt, state Treasurer Ken Miller and state Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones, all Republicans, have already won a second term because no one filed against them.