- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - All five of Oklahoma’s U.S. House members easily beat back Republican primary challengers on Tuesday and advanced to November’s general election, while U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine in Tulsa automatically retains his 1st District seat with his victory.

Bridenstine, along with U.S. Reps. Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, Markwayne Mullin and Steve Russell, all easily won re-election.

“Tom Atkinson was a valiant opponent,” Bridenstine said after the victory. “He ran an honorable campaign, and while we had disagreements, he kept it on the issues, and I think that’s important and I commend him for doing that.”

Cole will face Democrat Christina Owen and Libertarian Sevier White in November, while Russell will face Libertarian Zachary Knight and the winner of a Democratic primary runoff election between college professor Tom Guild and former state Sen. Al McAffrey. Lucas will face Democrat Frankie Robbins in November, while Mullin will face Democrat Joshua Harris-Till and independent John McCarthy.

“This was one of the ugliest or dirtiest races ran against us,” Mullin said of his primary contest against Jarrin Jackson, a West Point graduate and Army combat veteran who hammered Mullin as a Washington insider who wasn’t conservative enough for the district. “It’s pretty humbling to see that our constituents saw through it.”

In all primaries, if no candidate gets a majority of the votes cast, a runoff primary election for the top two vote getters is set for Aug. 23. The general election is Nov. 8.

The highlights of Tuesday’s Oklahoma primary:

FROM CLASSROOM TO CAPITOL

This year’s primary election was the first test for dozens of teachers, administrators and other candidates with ties to public education who decided to challenge incumbents they perceived as not sufficiently supportive of public schools. While many of these political newcomers won’t face election until November, there are some who are challenging incumbents or face crowded primary fields in races for open seats.

Two Republican House incumbents who were targeted by a pro-education group - Ken Walker in Tulsa and five-term incumbent Dennis Johnson of Duncan - were ousted by GOP challengers who had the backing of the group Oklahoma Parents and Educators for Public Education.

Education weighed heavily on the mind of Democrat Cheryl Cohenour, 59, when she cast her ballot Tuesday morning in Tulsa.

“We need to vote enough of (the educators in) to do something for teachers and teacher pay,” Cohenour said.

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ANOTHER INCUMBENT OUSTED

Incumbent Republican Sen. Corey Brooks of Washington also went down in a GOP primary, losing to Duncan business owner Paul Scott. Scott will face Democrat Leah Pollan of Norman in the general election for the Senate District 43 seat that stretches from Norman to Stephens County.

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AMAZING RACES

In central Oklahoma, two cowboy brothers who partnered up on the reality television show “The Amazing Race” ran for office, one as a Republican for state Senate and one as a Democrat for the state House. Jet McCoy ended up in a Republican primary runoff in the race for the largely rural state Senate District 13 in the Ada area. He will face Greg McCortney in an Aug. 23 runoff. His brother Cord McCoy lost a tight race to incumbent state Rep. Donnie Condit in the Democratic primary for House District 18.

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TERM LIMITS TAKE A TOLL

There were 57 primary elections in the House - 21 among Democrats and 36 for Republicans. In the Senate, there were seven Democratic primaries and 20 for Republicans, many of those for the 10 seats open because of term limits.

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“ANYONE BUT HILLARY”

The presidential candidates were not on Tuesday’s Oklahoma primary ballot confined to state and local races, but that didn’t stop voters from talking about the November general election. Neither one of the winners of the Oklahoma presidential primaries on March 1 - Bernie Sanders for the Democrats and Ted Cruz for the Republicans - is expected to emerge from nominating conventions this summer as their party’s nominee.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is drawing the grudging support of most GOP voters in Oklahoma because he isn’t presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Karen Smith, a 42-year-old homemaker in Oklahoma City, said she voted for Ohio Gov. John Kasich in the GOP presidential primary and is likely to support the Republican nominee

“It’s very painful but I am not voting for Hillary,” Smith said.

Realtor Laura Hawkins, 55, in Tulsa said Ben Carson was her choice in the primary and now she’ll vote for Trump. “I personally don’t care for some of his personality but I think he has enough ego to care about legacy, and so I think he’ll try hard” to preserve that. “Plus, he’s not afraid to get into a dogfight.”

In Edmond, Sally Cable, a 64-year-old retired teacher and her husband Doyle, a 74-year-old retired businessman said they both voted for Sen. Marco Rubio in the primary. Doyle Cable said he’ll vote for Trump.

“It won’t be Hillary,” ”said Doyle Cable. “That’s (Trump) my only choice.”

Sally Cable wasn’t as certain.

“Undecided,” she said emphatically. “I’m not happy about either one.”

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Associated Press writers Justin Juozapavicius in Tulsa, Daniel Houston and Tim Talley in Oklahoma City and Ken Miller in Edmond contributed to this report.


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