The Republican primary coming up June 24, and the runoff likely to follow, could be Oklahoma’s most important election in a decade. The supposed frontrunners, T.W. Shannon and James Lankford, are young men who could easily represent the state in Washington for the next quarter century. Sure, there will be a general election in November with two other names on the ballot, but the Republican primary is the election that matters.
And it will be largely decided by just three of Oklahoma’s 77 counties.
Oklahoma, Tulsa and Cleveland counties account for nearly half of the state’s 860,000 registered Republicans. Add Canadian County and the total goes above 50 percent.
Notwithstanding early strength in the northern tier of counties, the Oklahoma GOP has always been an urban party. It is one reason it had so much difficulty in the the first sixty years of statehood. Up until about 1970, a Democrat could win a statewide general election without carrying Oklahoma or Tulsa counties. Those days are long gone.