Luther—Dubbed a primary race to watch in Oklahoma, two Republicans are challenging incumbent State Senator Ron Sharp in the June 30, 2020, primary. The trio is criss-crossing State Senate District 17, all the way from Shawnee up to Luther, to woo voters, talk issues and place their political signs on the landscape.
Sharp is running his last campaign for this seat before being term limited in four years. His challengers are Brandon Baumgarten and Shane Jett. All three candidates describe themselves as conservative Christians and all live in Shawnee.
Observers say the race will likely include an August 25 run-off, unless one of the candidates gets a majority vote. The winner of the primary will face Libertarian Greg Sandler in the November General Election.
Sharp said his institutional knowledge and connections give him the edge to serve again. Baumgarten said he will tackle rural internet access issues to address the “digital divide.” Jett, a former house member, said his years in the Navy Reserves as an intelligence officer helped prepare him for public office.
The Oklahoma Ethics Commission and its cumbersome website shows that Sharp had raised around $95,000 as of last November. Another reporting deadline on June 25 will reveal campaign contributions at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to Sharp and challengers Jett and Baumgarten.
Sharp, a retired history teacher and avid tennis player and golfer, received $100 contributors to his re-election campaign from several superintendents, in the area, giving personal funds, including Harrah, Choctaw, North Rock Creek, Dale and Eastern Oklahoma County Technology Center. The Choctaw mayor and the executive director of the Central Oklahoma Economic Development District (COEDD) also pitched in $100 each. The employee pacs for OGE sent in $750 and the employees from ONEOK’s employee pac gave $1,000. Railroads, BNSF and Union Pacific, also sent money. Sharp does not appear to have a campaign website, but his FB page touted an endorsement from the Oklahoma Public Employees Association.
Baumgarten, a youth minister, author and leadership consultant, had raised about $6,600 as of the last reporting period. He likely spent some of those funds on campaign signage seen around the Luther area. Baumgarten earned notoriety serving as the State President of the Future Farmers of America.
Jett is not a stranger to Oklahoma politics. He served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives previously and ran for congress in 2010. His campaign website lists endorsements from former Governor Frank Keating, as well as several Shawnee business leaders and fellow politicians. He works in business consulting and lending.
“I never run to oppose another candidate, but rather run for an opportunity to serve our community based on the skills and experience I have to offer,” Jett said.
Mailers against Sharp
Have you been getting the robocalls or political mailers? “Not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee” identifies some postcards from the group with an Oklahoma City Park Avenue address called, “Advance Oklahoma Fund.” They call Sharp “the most liberal Republican State Senator in Oklahoma.”
Read more about the race here in an article from the Countywide & Sun in Tecumseh. And meet the candidates, all are invited, at the Luther Candidate Forum on June 23, from 6 – 8 pm, at Broken Horn Ranch.