Oklahoma Politics

A Bellwether Race to Follow?

The race between incumbent Carrie Hicks (D) and challenger Mariam Daley (R) for State Senate District 40 is one to watch. This seat was held by Republicans for decades until Ervin Yen (R) was defeated in the 2018 Republican primary by challenger Joe Howell. I believe there were several reasons that seat flipped:

1.The Republican challenger, while defeating an unpopular incumbent in the primary, did not campaign (or was not capable of campaigning). Republicans wanted change, but in doing so, they did not put their best foot forward for the general election cycle. The quality of candidate matters.

2. It was a midterm election year – meaning whichever party is in the White House (in this case Trump and the Republicans), the midterms typically swing toward the opposite party. The American people’s own version of checks and balances.

3. The 2018 election cycle in Oklahoma was ripe for candidates with educational backgrounds. Education was THE hot issue.

Enter Carrie Hicks. A young mom of three, classroom teacher, (and former contestant on the Bachelor), Carrie pounded the pavement and talked directly to voters about education. Her message was relatable and relevant. It was the perfect storm. In fact, that election cycle saw more teachers elected to serve in public office than ever before.

This year, a Democrat (Joe Biden) is in the White House, the Democrats control the Congress and a red wave is brewing. If this is really a thing and happening as the polls indicate, SD40 could flip back to a Republican held seat. While the state of education is always an issue in Oklahoma (and that is a story all to itself), topics like inflation, the economy and crime seem to be top of mind to most voters. I would even predict CRT, gender and abortion enter into the conversation before election day. This is Oklahoma after all.

Hicks has the built in advantage of incumbency in terms of fundraising and name ID, but during her four years of public service she has been fairly quiet in the district. Her challenger, Mariam Daly knows the red wave is coming and if a Republican is ever going to reclaim that senate seat, this is the year. (Although, the heated gubernatorial race which has caught the attention of national media might get in the way.)

Joe Biden and his inflationary policies are still at the top of mind for most voters and Republicans are enthusiastic to push back. Will that transcend this far down the ballot? Your guess is as good as mine, but SD 40 will be a solid seat to watch on election night if that is the case.