Wayback machine: The 14 candidates in the 2nd Congressional District’s June 28 Republican primary and the 13 contending for the GOP nomination to finish Jim Inhofe’s US Senate term are a lot by recent and even not-so-recent standards, but there was a time when such crowded elections were almost routine.
Some crowded fields occurred early: The largest in state history appears to be the 28 Democrats stampeding for the state’s at-large US House seat in 1912.
Fourteen Republicans filed for the US Senate in 1920. One of them, JW Harreld, went to Washington; sadly, Dynamite Ed Perry did not.
The real Heyday for Oklahoma political primaries, though, began with the Great Depression in 1930 and continued into the early 1960s.
In 1932, 25 Democrats filed for the newly restored at-large congressional seat, and 15 ran for corporation commissioner.
In 1936, 23 Democrats filed for the vacant CD 5 spot; amazingly, RP Hill won without a runoff.
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That same year, 16 Democrats and 12 Republicans filed for the at-large slot, which despite the heavy competition was won all 10 years of its existence by Will Rogers (but not that Will Rogers).
Famous and catchy names were a prominent if usually unsuccessful feature of this period. At least three Will Rogers (including two in one race) and a William J. Rogers ran during the 1930s, but only one was ever victorious. Also appearing at various times were Robert E. Lee, William Cullen Bryant, Sam Houston III, Oliver Cromwell, James Nance Garner, Brigham Young, John Paul Jones and Daniel Boone. None were the original article.
In the tradition of Dynamite Ed Perry, Oklahomas would also be asked to vote for Plowboy Edwards, Cowboy Pink Williams, Fence-cutter Roger Willis and Snake Arbuckle.
The state’s most famous political nickname, “Alfalfa Bill” Murray, does not seem to have ever appeared on the ballot as such.
The pinnacle of mass office-seeking was probably 1954. That year, 16 Democrats ran for governor, 12 for insurance commissioner, 10 for lieutenant governor, 10 for corporation commissioner, nine for US Senate and an incomprehensible 24 for secretary of state.
The size of primary fields declined steadily after that. Until this year, the last state or federal race with at least 14 entrants was the 1978 Democratic lieutenant governor battle.
All of that said, the all-timer may have been Tulsa’s 1992 nonpartisan, winner-take-all mayoral special election. Fifty-four people put their names in the hat for that one; then-acting Mayor Susan Savage won with 41% of the vote, with future mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. a distant second.
Campaigns and elections: Democrat Kendra Horn, who will face the survivor of the 13 Republicans contending for nomination to finish US Sen. Jim Inhofe’s term, blasted the four upper-tier contenders who participated in a televised debate last week as extremists and political panderers.
“Oklahomans need a problem-solver who will work across the aisle to get things done. In Congress, I had 25 bipartisan bills signed into law in a divided government — and that’s exactly what I’ll do in the US Senate.”
US Sen. James Lankford was endorsed by several state agriculture groups and the National Right to Life.
Tulsa County Commission candidate Bob Jack released a list of endorsements that includes the Tulsa and Glenpool Fraternal Order of Police lodges, five current legislators, three former county commissioners, former mayors of Tulsa, Bixby and Jenks, and current City Councilor Jayme Fowler.
US Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas endorsed Republican state superintendent candidate Ryan Walters.
Meetings and events: Gubernatorial candidate Connie Johnson and US Senate hopefuls Dennis Baker and Jo Glenn will speak to the Creek County Democratic Party at 6 pm Thursday, at Joseph’s in Drumright, 54580 Highway 16.
— Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World