- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - It was a mixed bag for teachers running for political office in Oklahoma but clearly a bad night for incumbent Republicans who voted this year against a tax package to fund a teacher pay raise.

Voters on Tuesday also approved the nation’s first medical marijuana ballot question this year.

Several GOP incumbents who voted against the tax hikes were either ousted from office or pulled into a runoff against a fellow GOP opponent, a signal that some teacher candidates say bodes well for them in November.

“Our voices were heard tonight,” said Sherrie Conley, an assistant principal at an Oklahoma City elementary school who ended up in a Republican runoff with incumbent Rep. Bobby Cleveland.

Of the 10 “no” voters in the House who were running for re-election, two were defeated outright on Tuesday night - Reps. Chuck Strohm of Jenks and Scott McEachin of Tulsa. Seven others ended up in an Aug. 28 primary runoff against fellow Republicans.

Other Republican incumbents who lost include Sen. Ervin Yen of Oklahoma City, and Reps. Greg Babinec of Cushing, Steve Vaughan of Ponca City and Scooter Park of Devol, who lost to a seventh-grade English teacher from Elgin.

Funding for public schools became an overriding theme of this year’s legislative session, as tens of thousands of teachers across the state walked off the job and protested at the Capitol for two weeks. The rallies coincided with this year’s three-day candidate filing period in April, and as a result nearly 100 school teachers and administrators decided to run for seats in the House and Senate.

Still, most of the teacher candidates this year were Democrats, many of whom are running against Republican incumbents in November.

GOVERNOR

Fifteen candidates - two Democrats, 10 Republicans and three Libertarians - ran to replace Fallin, who has served eight years as the state’s chief executive. Most of the attention, and money, has been focused on the Republican primary, which included former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, state Auditor Gary Jones, trial attorney Gary Richardson and Tulsa mortgage company founder Kevin Stitt.

Cornett advanced to the August 28 Republican runoff Tuesday. Lamb, 46, told supporters Tuesday at an election night party that it appears he lacks the votes to make a two-way runoff for the nomination.

Stitt held a slight lead over Lamb for the second spot with nearly all votes counted in the 10-candidate Republican primary. Running as a political outsider, Stitt reported raising $4.2 million, including $2.1 million of his own money.

On the Democratic side, former Oklahoma Attorney General clinched the nomination over ex-state Sen. Connie Johnson. The $1.5 million Edmondson raised was more than 20 times as much as Johnson.

MEDICAL MARIJUANA

Oklahoma voters on Tuesday approved the medicinal use of marijuana, despite opposition from law enforcement and business, faith and political leaders.

State Question 788 was the result of an activist-led signature drive. It allows physicians to approve medical marijuana licenses for people to legally grow, keep and use cannabis. The proposal doesn’t list any qualifying medical conditions, allowing doctors to prescribe it for a wide range of ailments.

Opponents had argued the proposal was too loosely written, and Gov. Mary Fallin said it would essentially allow recreational use. She warned that if the measure passed, she would have to call lawmakers into a special session to develop rules regulating the industry in Oklahoma.

It’s the first marijuana question on a state ballot in 2018. Elections are scheduled for later this year in Michigan and Utah.

ATTORNEY GENERAL

The top two candidates in the most heated statewide primary race advanced in the Republican primary for attorney general. Sitting Attorney General Mike Hunter led the three-candidate race and face Tulsa attorney Gentner Drummond in a runoff for the GOP nomination. Hunter was appointed to the post by Fallin after former Attorney General Scott Pruitt was tapped by President Donald Trump to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A series of attack ads launched by Hunter and Drummond provided plenty of fireworks.

Angela Bonilla finished third in Republican race.

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Associated Press writer Adam Kealoha Causey contributed to this report.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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