From left: Democrat Melinda Alizadeh-Fard, Republican Matt Pinnell and Libertarian Chris Powell.

By Keaton Ross | Democracy Reporter

Incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell will face two challengers in the Nov. 8 general election, one of whom argues the position is unnecessary and should be abolished. 

The lieutenant governor serves as president of the Senate and is a member of 10 state boards and commissions. In the event of a gubernatorial vacancy, the lieutenant governor is first in the line of succession. 

It’s not uncommon for the governor to appoint the lieutenant governor to lead a board or commission. For instance, Gov. Kevin Stitt tapped Pinnell to serve as Secretary of Tourism and Branding upon taking office in January 2019. 

Oklahoma is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor and governor run separately. Voters in 2018 rejected State Question 798, a legislatively referred constitutional amendment seeking to combine the tickets, by a nearly 10% margin. 

Lieutenant governors often file to run for governor at the end of the term or shortly after leaving office. The last lieutenant governor not to seek a gubernatorial bid was Robert S. Kerr III, who served from 1987-1991. 

Compiled through publicly accessible materials, here’s a brief breakdown of the candidates and issues they’re running on: 

The Candidates:

Democrat Melinda Alizadeh-Fard, an Oklahoma City-based immigration attorney. 

Incumbent Republican Matt Pinnell, elected to the position in 2018. Former chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. 

Libertarian Chris Powell, a Bethany city council member. Ran as the Libertarian party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2018. 

What They’re Running On: 

On her campaign website, Alizadeh-Fard says she is running to “restore transparency and accountability” in state government. She lists improving public education and expanding public health resources among her top priorities. 

If re-elected, Pinnell says he will focus on attracting new businesses and out-of-state tourists. Among his policy positions, he lists support for school voucher programs and cutting taxes and regulations for small businesses. 

Powell argues the lieutenant governor position should be eliminated to save tax dollars, with the secretary of state assuming the role of governor if the position becomes vacant. If elected, he says he will refuse Oklahoma Highway Patrol detail and hire just one staff member. 

For More Information: 

Alizadeh-Fard: Campaign website, Facebook page

Pinnell: Campaign website, Facebook page

Powell: Campaign website, Facebook page

Are You a Poll Worker?

I’m working on a story about how county election boards are preparing for the Nov. 8 general election and would love to hear from you. If you’re planning on working as a precinct official in November, or you have previously and decided not to this year, reach out to me at kross@oklahomawatch.org.

What I’m Reading This Week

  • Tulsa Among Election Boards ‘Working Overtime’ After Mike Lindell Push for 2020 Vote Records: The Tulsa County Election Board has seen a surge in large, complex open records requests following an election denier rally held in Springfield, Mo. in August. [Tulsa World]
  • In Deep-Red Oklahoma, the Race for Governor is Tightening: Democratic candidate Joy Hofmeister has gained ground among women and independents, according to recent polling. Stitt is aiming to win over voters by focusing on the economy and Joe Biden. [The Frontier]
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt to Decide Bill Targeting OU Children’s Gender Care: The GOP-led Oklahoma Legislature gave final approval on Thursday to a bill that would appropriate $108.5 million in federal stimulus funds to the University of Oklahoma health system so long as none of its medical facilities offer “gender reassignment medical treatment” to children. [The Oklahoman]
  • Oklahoma Lawmakers Push Money Forward for Broadband Development, Drought Relief: Lawmakers in both chambers allocated $382 million in an effort to bring internet connectivity to 95% of households by 2027. They also dedicated $20 million to help farmers and ranchers impacted by the ongoing drought. [KGOU]

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