Executive News: OBA events provide forums for candidates

The past couple of weeks, it’s finally started to feel like an election year.

The negative ads are on TV and candidate rumors are swirling all around us. The legislature

Adrian Beverage, OBA President and CEO

is running bad pieces of legislation that address problems, which only exist so members can use the vote for nothing more than campaign materials.

I’m enjoying this right now, but I’ll eventually hit a point when November can’t get here fast enough.
The OBA didn’t want to miss out on the election-year action, so we decided to get involved – and I’m not talking about the PAC.

We are currently halfway through our annual spring Bankers’ Night Out dinners – in the past we’ve provided attendees with updates on legislation at both the state and federal level as well as usually having an outside speaker to provide some valuable information. We wanted to do something different this year, and it sure looks like it has been a home run.

With several very important statewide elections, including two U.S. Senate races, there are a bunch of well-known candidates to those of us who deal with politics everyday, but they aren’t as well known to most of our bankers.

We decided to leave the PowerPoint back at the office and invite the majority of the statewide candidates to join us at our Bankers’ Night Out dinners.

We were nervous at first because we know how busy they are and weren’t sure if anyone would be able to join us. Well, our worries were unfounded! We held our first event in Enid and it couldn’t have gone any better – there were more than 100 bankers in attendance and we had several standing against the wall.

The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education were having a meeting down the hall at the same location in Enid and they paused their meeting to come and hear the candidates. In person, we had Clark Jolley and Todd Russ – both candidates for state treasurer; T.W. Shannon, Luke Holland and a personalized video from Markwayne Mullin – all three are candidates for U.S. Senate.

We had an equally great night the following week in Lawton where we were joined by several candidates, including Gentner Drummond who is a candidate to be Oklahoma’s next attorney general.

We had what I think was maybe our best event last week at Pete’s Place in Krebs – not only did we have several statewide candidates, we had three of the candidates for the recently vacated Second Congressional District.

The candidates who were there in person didn’t disappoint the more than 150 bankers in attendance. If you haven’t had the opportunity to join us for one of the Bankers’ Night Outs, you are in luck as we have three more events scheduled in the next couple of weeks. We will be in Guymon on April 14, Tulsa on April 18 and our last event will be in Oklahoma City on April 27. You can go to www.OBA.com to register for any or all the events.

While we are still several months away from the elections, it’s never too early to start looking at polling for certain races. Amber Integrated, a fully integrated public affairs firm in Oklahoma, recently did two surveys: The first survey was conducted from March 24-27 and included a pool of 455 likely Republican voters in Oklahoma; the second survey was for the same dates and it included a pool of 500 likely general election voters in Oklahoma. Below are the results from both polls.

Gov. Kevin Stitt holds a commanding lead in the GOP gubernatorial primary, with 59% of voters saying they will vote for Stitt or “lean toward” voting for Stitt.

Gentner Drummond has a notable lead over Stitt-appointed Attorney General John O’Connor. Thirty-seven percent of likely Republican primary voters say they will vote or lean towards voting for Drummond, while 16% say the same of O’Connor. Forty-seven percent remain undecided, however.
Sixty-three percent of likely GOP voters say they will vote for or lean toward voting for U.S. Sen. James Lankford in his reelection bid, compared to just 10% who say they support or lean toward his opponent, Jackson Lahmeyer.

With the support of 39% of likely GOP voters, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin has an early lead over his other opponents for the race to fill retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe’s seat. Former Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker T.W. Shannon has the support of 14% of likely Republican voters.
Voters are overwhelmingly undecided on primary races further down the ballot, with 77% of voters undecided on the race for state superintendent of education and 72% undecided on both state treasurer and corporation commissioner.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s job approval rating has taken a slight hit, but his lead against State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister in the general election is holding. In December 2021, Stitt had a job approval rating of 51% and a job disapproval rating of 37%, a +14% net positive. That has shifted to a job approval rating of 47% and a 44% disapproval rating, a +3% net positive. However, his lead on the ballot is virtually untouched: in December 2021, he led Hofmeister 43% to 29% (+14%); in March 2022 that lead is at 44% to 30% (still +14%).

Likely voters care about the economy and education, not COVID. Thirty-three percent of voters listed “jobs and the economy” as the number one state issue, up from 28% in December 2021. Education received a large bump, moving from 15% in December 2021 to 26% in March 2022. Other priorities included “law and order” (10%), immigration (9%), and health care (7%). COVID was listed as the number one issue for just 2% of likely voters, including 5% of Democrats, 1% of Republicans and 0% of independents and libertarians.