TULSA — It appears that for the first time in eighty years, Oklahoma’s gubernatorial primary elections in 2018 will feature candidates from three parties.
As of March, 2016 the Libertarian Party is officially recognized by the state of Oklahoma, and its candidates can appear on ballots.
While independents have occasionally run for the office - and even affected the outcome - the last time a third, officially registered political party ran a candidate for governor was when the Prohibition Party ran a man named John Lesley Lanham (the year was 1938, six years after Prohibition was repealed).
Lanham got about one half of one percent of the vote - while the Democrat, Leon C. Phillips, easily won the race with 70 percent over Republican Roscoe Rizley (29 percent).
In those days, as Oklahoma suffered through the Depression and the Dust Bowl, Democrats had a firm lock on state politics - a far cry from the modern era of Republican dominance over every statewide elected office.
Not surprisingly, then, the majority of candidates who have filed campaigns with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to run for governor in 2018 are Republicans.
Six, so far, have signaled their intention to run.
Three Democrats have also filed with OEC, as have three Libertarians.
There are some well known names in the mix, and some not so well known.
Republican hopefuls include Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, as well as former independent candidate Gary Richardson, a Tulsa attorney.
The Democrats boast a couple of well known candidates in former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson and House Minority Leader Scott Inman.
The Libertarians’ names are, predictably, less recognizable to most voters.
They include Rex Lawhorn, a Broken Arrow businessman, and Chris Powell, an evidence specialist for the Oklahoma City Police Department.