- Associated Press - Saturday, August 30, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma’s gubernatorial race seems to be heating up, but there are numerous seats on the midterm election ballot come Nov. 4. Here’s a look at what voters can expect:


TWO U.S. SENATE RACES: For the first time in recent history, both U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs in November - a crucial element for the GOP, which hopes to retake the chamber from Democrats.

Democrat Matt Silverstein is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s re-election bid for another six-year term. But Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s seat is also opening up, as the longtime politician plans to retire with two years left on his term. Republican U.S. Rep. James Lankford will face Democratic state Sen. Connie Johnson for the seat.


RED STATE/BLUE STATE? Although Oklahoma has earned the reputation as one of the reddest states in the country, Democrats still hold a slight edge in voter registration. The latest figures from the Oklahoma Election Board show 44.8 percent of the nearly 2 million registered voters are Democrats, while 43.2 percent are Republicans. Ten years ago, 52.8 percent were Democrats and 37.1 percent were Republicans.

Twelve percent of voters are independents now; only 10.1 percent were independent in 2004.


INDEPENDENT STREAK: Voters will have the option of casting a ballot for an independent candidate in several major races. There are three independents running for the open U.S. Senate seat, while another is running for Inhofe’s post. There also are independent candidates in both the 2nd and 4th Congressional District races, and three independents vying for the open 5th Congressional District seat. Two independents also are running for governor.


SHRINKING BALLOT: Some statewide offices won’t be on the ballot because incumbents ran unopposed or the races were settled in winner-take-all primaries. Those positions include: state auditor and inspector, attorney general, state treasurer, commissioner of insurance and corporation commissioner.


YOUR OPINION MATTERS: At least three state questions that would amend the Oklahoma Constitution will appear on the ballot. State Question 769 would permit those serving in state offices, including lawmakers, judges and statewide officials, to also hold certain military positions. State Question 770 provides a homestead exemption to certain qualifying disabled veterans and to surviving spouses. State Question 771 would create a homestead exemption for the surviving spouse of military personnel who die in the line of duty.

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