Oklahoma City – Arctic weather couldn’t keep the fierce, passionate supporters of the metro area’s Liberty Slate of candidates from the polls yesterday as all six candidates finished in first or second, securing their spot in the general election runoff on April 6th. The night was not as kind to the establishment candidates, with two of the favorites suffering defeat.
Canadian County proved to be pivotal to Jake Merrick (SD22) and Bradley Carter (OKC Ward 1), as both candidates took commanding leads in the staunchly conservative county – a lead that held up as Oklahoma County votes rolled in later in the evening.
Merrick’s race proved to be the outlier of the night as all of the Liberty candidates had to overcome significant deficits in the absentee votes except for him. Merrick only trailed establishment favorite Keri Shipley by only 41 votes after the absentee votes were counted. That changed quickly, however, as the Canadian County votes came in as Merrick opened up a nearly 500 vote lead. That lead continued as Oklahoma County votes came in with Merrick taking Oklahoma County by 172 votes.
Bradley Carter initially trailed liberal candidates Megan Scott and Nana Abram Dankwa by 69 votes and 59 votes, respectively. That quickly changed, however, as Carter stormed to a lead in Canadian County, outpacing his closest competitor by 354 votes. Carter’s lead held through the night as he only trailed establishment favorite Shay Varnell in Oklahoma County by 100 votes. Carter ended up in first place by 298 votes at the end of the night.
When asked about his showing in Oklahoma County, Carter’s campaign was quick to point out that the vast majority of their campaigning focused solely in Canadian County. This was largely done out of respect to the Varnell and Sherrill campaigns, a courtesy that was not returned by Varnell. This bodes well for Carter’s chances in the April runoff as his campaign will turn their sights to the Oklahoma County precincts within Ward 1.
The closest aspect of the Ward 1 race was in the race for second. Mick Cornett endorsee Jay Sherrill, whose campaign reportedly raised over $50,000, was neck and neck with Varnell and Dankwa early, but faded as the night went on leaving a two man race for second. That race was holding in Dankwa’s favor until Varnell’s precinct results put him over the top for good.
OKC’s Ward 3 race was perhaps the toughest of the night for the Liberty candidate, as Barbara Young had to battle all night to stay in second place. Young trailed left-leaning candidate Jessica Martinez-Brooks by 54 votes in the absentee ballots. That deficit widened throughout the evening as she trailed Brooks by 112 in Election Day votes, resulting in a second-place finish by 164 votes.
Young was chased all night by Tim Long and Kelli Payne, but managed to secure a place in the runoff elections by 95 votes. This likely bodes well for Young in the runoff as she is likely to pick up the votes from Payne supporters as well as those from Allen Swanda.
The rally trend of the night continued in the Edmond races, as all three Liberty candidates overcame huge deficits in absentee votes to finish in first place. The largest comeback of the three belonged to Margaret Best, who trailed by nearly 100 votes early only to rally and win the Election Day ballots by 247 votes in the race for Edmond Public Schools Office No.1. Best secured her spot in the April runoff by beating in incumbent Lee Ann Kuhlman by 160 votes.
The second largest rally was held by Sheryl Janis in the Edmond Ward 3 race. Janis only mustered 28 votes in the absentee ballots and trailed by 78 votes going into the Election Day tallies. That deficit didn’t last long as Janis stormed to a resounding 718-414 victory over second place finisher Christin Mugg, a local attorney. That turnout nearly gave Janis enough to secure the victory outright as she finished with 45.76% of the vote. Janis and Mugg both now head to the April runoff election.
The Edmond Ward 4 race seemed the most peculiar of the night, as the vote tally seemed to stall after only 2 of the 8 precincts reported. Ignite Liberty has not been able to confirm the reason for this, however it was likely due to poor roads from winter weather that delayed the reporting. Stacie Peterson, the Liberty candidate, only trailed David Miller, former Edmond city councilman, by 42 votes after absentee.
As the evening wore on, the race stalled out with Miller and Peterson neck in neck for a couple hours. Once the precincts finally came in, however, Peterson finished with a commanding 238 vote victory over Miller in a four-way race after winning Election Day ballots by 280 votes. The two will now head to the April runoff.
Throughout the night one thing seemed certain, the passionate supporters of the Liberty candidates refused to be deterred by the record-breaking arctic weather. While this is very encouraging for the future of freedom and liberty in the metro area, the work is only half done. Every candidate will have to double down their efforts in order to weather the certain onslaught from an angry establishment. As the April runoff approaches, it is incumbent upon us, the people, to get out and support each of these candidates through donating, volunteering, knocking on doors, etc. That is the only way we can guarantee that the success of last night extends into the future.