A new year brings new challenges for and opportunities for Oklahoma voters who will pick a new governor and decide whether to legalize medical marijuana.
Here’s a look at what’s coming up in 2018:
OKLAHOMA GOVERNOR’S RACE
At least a dozen candidates have joined the campaign to become Oklahoma’s 28th governor and succeed term-limited Gov. Mary Fallin, the first woman to serve as the state’s chief executive.
Six Republicans, three Democrats and three Libertarians are seeking the governor’s job in the Nov. 6 general election, a race that tops a ballot that includes a host of congressional, statewide and legislative races. And the next governor will inherit a dismal state budget following years of falling energy prices and state tax cuts that have sapped funding for schools, transportation and economic development.
The Republican candidates are: Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb; Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones; Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett; Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson; political newcomer Kevin Stitt and former state Rep. Dan Fisher. Democrats include: former Attorney General Drew Edmondson; former state Sen. Connie Johnson; and auto mechanic Norman Brown. The Libertarian candidates are Rex Lawhorn; Chris Powell; and Joseph Maldonado, a self-described actor and musician known as “Joe Exotic.”
Oklahomans will decide whether to join 29 other states and the District of Columbia that have a medical marijuana program that permits physicians to prescribe the drug for cancer patients and others with serious health issues.
After a failed initiative petition in 2014, supporters gathered enough signatures last year to schedule a statewide referendum on State Question 788. Fallin has said she will decide in the new year whether to schedule the election in June’s primary election or the November general election.
Unlike other states, an Oklahoma-issued medical marijuana license would require a board-certified physician’s signature, said Tulsa-area