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Law & Principles

Rick Farmer, Ph.D. | June 5, 2024

Oklahoma state legislative races in full swing

Rick Farmer, Ph.D.

Voters matter in elections, and elections determine the values and ideals that are implemented by the government. However, voters do not have good choices without good candidates. Having good candidates is essential for voters to have good choices.

In Oklahoma, candidate filing this year occurred April 3-5. At the end of that filing period, the choices available to Oklahoma voters were set. We already know a lot about the 2025-2026 Oklahoma Legislature based on those candidate filings—before any votes are cast.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has 101 members. Representatives run for office every two years. A total of 189 candidates filed for the House, including 138 Republicans, 43 Democrats, four Libertarians, and four Independents.

Forty-four current members filed for re-election and did not draw an opponent. This includes 36 Republicans and 8 Democrats. Those Representatives are re-elected and will serve in the next Legislature.

In 25 districts, all of the candidates to file for the seat are in the same party. In 22 of these seats, only Republicans filed. In three of these districts, only Democrats filed. So the party controlling these seats has already been determined, although primary voters will determine the actual Representatives on primary election day, June 18, and primary runoff day, August 27. 

Before voters go to the polls, we already know that Republicans will control a minimum of 58 Oklahoma House seats and Democrats will control at least 11.   

Fourteen Republican current members drew a primary opponent but no general election challengers. One Democratic Representative only drew a primary opponent. This is significant for a couple of reasons. First, incumbents are very hard to defeat. And, the winner of the primary will become the Representative.  

Districts where the current Representative is not seeking re-election are often described as “open seats.” In eight open seats, only Republicans filed. Only Democrats filed in two open seats. In these 10 open seats, the primary winner will assume the seat in November.

In 2024, there are 13 House seats with no incumbent seeking re-election. Of those, only three attracted a candidate of more than one party, creating a general election on November 5.  Republicans currently hold two of these contested seats and Democrats hold one.  

General election challengers took on 21 incumbent Republican Representatives. Eight Democratic incumbents also face general elections. This means in November, on the general election ballot, voters in 32 House districts will see races. 

Oklahoma Senate

The Oklahoma Senate has 48 members. Senators run every four years. Each seat is given a number. In 2024 the odd-numbered seats must stand for election. Two even-numbered seats will become vacant and they are also on the ballot, for a total of 26 available Senate seats. A total of 70 candidates filed for the Senate, including 52 Republicans, 15 Democrats, and 3 Independents. 

Five Senators filed for re-election and did not encounter an opponent. All five were Republicans. These current Senators are re-elected to serve another four-year term. 

In nine districts, only candidates of one party filed for the seat. Only Republicans filed in seven districts. In two more, only Democrats filed. Party primary voters will select the Senators in eight of these seats on June 18 and August 27. In one district, only one candidate filed. That Republican candidate is elected. 

Because Senators serve four-year terms and the terms are staggered, 22 Senators are in the middle of their terms and are not up for re-election. Of those 18 are Republicans and four are Democrats. 

Before voters go to the polls, we already know that Republicans will control a minimum of 30 seats in the Oklahoma Senate and Democrats will control at least 6.

Five Republican Senators have primary opponents, but no general election challenger. Five more GOP Senators have general election challengers. No Democratic incumbents are seeking re-election. 

Eleven seats do not have an incumbent running. Of those, two only have Republican candidates. Two only have Democratic candidates. Seven have general election contests.  Republicans currently control six of the districts with general elections and Democrats control one. 

Conclusion

Voters will go to the polls in June, August, and November to select their legislators. These elected officials will determine the direction of public policy in Oklahoma. The April candidate filing has defined those choices for the voters. The filings have set up the Oklahoma Legislature for large Republican majorities in both chambers in 2025-2026. The size of those majorities and the specific individuals who will fill those seats are in most cases yet to be determined. Take advantage of your opportunity to shape Oklahoma’s future in this coming election.

ChamberCategoryRepublican  Democrat  
HouseInc No Challenger368
Primary Only w Incumbent141
Primary Only Open82
Incumbent w General218
Open w General21
 
SenateInc No Challenger50
Primary Only w Incumbent50
Primary Only Open12
Open Uncontested10
Incumbent w General50
Open w General61
Rick Farmer, Ph.D. Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship

Rick Farmer, Ph.D.

Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship

Dr. Rick Farmer serves as OCPA’s Dean of the J. Rufus Fears Fellowship. Previously, Rick served as director of committee staff at the Oklahoma House of Representatives, deputy insurance commissioner, and director of the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission. Earning his Ph.D. at the University of Oklahoma and tenure at the University of Akron, Rick can best be described as a “pracademic.” While working full-time in the Oklahoma government, he continued to teach and write. He served as president of the Oklahoma Political Science Association and chairman of the American Political Science Association’s Practical Politics Working Group. In 2016, he was awarded the Oklahoma Political Science Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Farmer has appeared on CNN, NBC, MSNBC, C-SPAN, BBC Radio, and various local news outlets. His comments are quoted in the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and numerous local newspapers. He is the author of more than 30 academic chapters and articles and the co-editor of four books.

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