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Record number of candidates file for office in Oklahoma

All five of Oklahoma's congressmen will face challengers in the Republican primary election in June.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. James Lankford drew no opposition in the primary election. But the Oklahoma City Republican will face Democratic, independent and Libertarian challengers during the general election in November.

The filing period for federal, state and legislative offices wrapped up Friday. Candidates who filed their paperwork during the period will appear on the ballot in the June 28 primary election.

Filing for the U.S. Senate seat were two Democrats, Mike Workman and Steve Perry; two Independents, Mark T. Beard and Sean Braddy; and two Libertarians, Dax Ewbank and Robert T. Murphy. All five congressmen will face at least one Republican challenger in the primary. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, each drew two Republican challengers.

Over the three-day filing period, 417 candidates submitted paperwork to run for office — more than any other presidential election year in recent history.

"That's a pretty impressive number," said Bryan Dean, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Election Board.

In 2004, 412 candidates filed for office, the most in recent history before this year. Dean said 2004 was the first presidential election year after legislative term limits took effect, which meant an unusual number of seats were open.

This year's filings included 222 Republican candidates, 158 Democratic candidates, 20 Independents and 17 Libertarians. This year marks the first time since 2000 the Libertarian Party has been certified in Oklahoma, meaning voters may register as Libertarians and candidates may run as Libertarians for any partisan office in the state.

Those candidates are all vying for all 101 seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, 25 seats in the Oklahoma Senate and all of Oklahoma's five U.S. House of Representatives seats. One of the state's two U.S. Senate seats — currently occupied by Sen. James Lankford — is also up for re-election.

The flood of candidates began the first day, when about 250 people filed paperwork to run for office. That's nearly as many as the 275 people who filed for office during the entire three-day period in 2012, according to the Oklahoma State Election Board.

Much of the interest in this year's election has been driven by concerns about school funding. About 30 educators were expected to file for office, including Shawn Sheehan, the Oklahoma state teacher of the year. Sheehan, a special education teacher at Norman High School, filed as an independent candidate for the Oklahoma Senate District 15 seat.

Silas Allen

Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri. Read more ›