Politics

Rogers County state Senate runoff attracting attention | Govt-and-politics

Four Republican state Senate runoffs will be held Aug. 23. It’s doubtful any will be watched more closely than Senate District 2, which in its new configuration encompasses southern Rogers County, including Claremore and Catoosa, and most of Collinsville in extreme northeast Tulsa County.

The race figured to be an interesting one in any event, but the history and social media postings of primary leader Jarrin Jackson have made it more so.

Jackson, 37, is a U.S. Military Academy graduate and decorated combat veteran. He is also an ardent Christian Nationalist and ammunition dealer whose campaign slogan is “Christ, not communism,” and who has become known for anti-Semitic, homophobic and conspiracy-laced social media posts and public speaking appearances.

“Outline & detail the evil. Amen. The Jews, Illuminati, Covid shots kill. Rothschilds. Communists. Woke pastors. Social gospel. Christ will chuck a bunch of stuff in the fire,” Jackson wrote in a February post, according to The Oklahoman.

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Jackson twice challenged 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin without success, but he has a loyal following that carried him to first in SD 2’s June 28 primary.

Jackson pulled 34% in a four-way race, 2 points ahead of Ally Seifried, a 29-year-old Claremore woman who has never run for office before but worked in former state Sen. Dan Newberry’s 2016 campaign and as his legislative assistant.

Seifried currently works for a book publisher.

“Where I will spend most of my time is on economic development, education and infrastructure. Those three tie together,” Seifried said in a telephone interview.

“What I want to know is how can I make Oklahoma the best place possible,” she said.

Seifried describes herself as a ninth-generation Oklahoman and Cherokee citizen whose family has long been part of the Claremore community. She said that has been helpful — “when I knock on doors, almost everyone knows somebody I know” — but not enough in itself.

“I can’t rest on that,” she said. “I’ve knocked on thousands and thousands of doors.”

Seifried was homeschooled and graduated from Claremore Christian School before earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and playing basketball at Rogers State College. She says she is committed to “empowering parents.”

That includes access to state funds to pay for private or homeschooling.

“That is the right direction — to make sure parents have those resources to do as they see fit” Seifried said.

Jackson did not respond to interview requests for this story, but according to his website, he and his wife Katie homeschool their children in rural Rogers County.

Mostly, Jackson talks about LGBTQ — which he calls the “devil’s language” — and national issues such as the 2020 election. In one video, he is seen shooting up a voting machine.

Jackson may have his followers, but he also has plenty of detractors in the Republican Party. Privately, some say they’re angry about his behavior. Gov. Kevin Stitt and term-limited Sen. Marty Quinn have endorsed Seifried.

Seifried herself is reluctant to talk about Jackson’s statements.

“Our words matter,” she said.

Most people in SD 2, she said, “want to be left alone.”

The winner of the Republican runoff is opposed by Democrat Jennifer Esau, a public school teacher, in the general election.

SD 4 (Adair, Ottawa, Delaware, Cherokee, Sequoyah Counties): Tom Woods, a 27-year-old dairy farmer and feed store owner from Westville, finished first in a four-way primary but not without some controversy. During the campaign, he attacked the fitness of another candidate, Hoguen Apperson, because Apperson had sought treatment at a mental health clinic.

Second-place finisher Keith Barenberg, 55, is a retired Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and long-time president of the troopers’ association, and is endorsed by Apperson, who was a close third in the primary.

Woods received 39.5% in the primary to 25% for Barenberg.

Woods says his top priorities are more money for schools and supporting agriculture. Barenberg emphasizes his law enforcement background and says he’ll fight “the cancel-culture left.”

There is no general election.

SD 26 (Canadian, Kingfisher, Blaine, Caddo, Custer Counties): Moderate incumbent Darcy Jech of Kingfisher is being pressed hard by Brady Butler, a Bible-quoting oil-and-gas producer who calls himself the “bond servant of Christ Jesus.” He says Jech is a “gem” but criticizes his support of some economic development incentives and such things as allowing Temporary Assistance to Needy Families recipients to own vehicles worth as much as $10,000.

Jech, a 65-year-old insurance agent, finished first in the primary by 5 percentage points, but the third-place finisher, J.J. Stitt, has endorsed Butler.

SD 28 (Lincoln, Logan, Oklahoma, Seminole, Pottawatomie Counties): Former propane company owner Grant Green, 53, came in 875 votes ahead of Jeff McComas, a 57-year-old construction company owner, rancher and Church of Christ minister from Agra, in the four-way primary.

Green, of Wellston, says he’s determined to “defeat the big-city, woke mob that undermines our faith, family and freedom” and “defend our God-given rights and the Second Amendment.”

McComas said his priorities are “education, tax reform and local agriculture.”

The runoff winner is opposed by Democrat Karen Rackley in the general election.

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