Cheat sheet: 3 seek GOP nod to succeed Anthony on Oklahoma Corporation Commission

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Oklahoma Corporation Commission 2024
From left: Brian Bingman, Russell Ray and Justin Hornback are seeking to be the Republican nominee for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in 2024. (NonDoc)

Three candidates are pursuing the Republican nomination to succeed Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony, the longest-serving utility commissioner in the United States and the longest-serving statewide-elected official in Oklahoma.

The contest marks the only statewide race on Oklahoma’s June 18 primary election ballot.

Brian Bingman, 70, Justin Hornback, 40, and Russell Ray, 55, are competing for the Republican nomination. Two of the three, Bingman and Hornback, have unsuccessfully sought a seat on the three-member commission before.

The three-member Oklahoma Corporation Commission is entrusted with regulating a slate of matters, including:

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  • the responsible development of oil and gas resources;
  • reliable utility service at fair rates;
  • safe and legal operation of motor carriers, pipelines, rail crossings, and fueling stations; and
  • prevention and remediation of energy‐related pollution of the environment.

Oklahoma is among 11 states where elections are held for seats on boards or commissions that regulate public utilities. In other states, those positions are appointed.

Anthony, first elected to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in 1988, won six successive six-year terms. He is serving his 36th year on the regulatory body and is term limited from seeking reelection. The other two members of the commission are former legislators: Chairman Todd Hiett, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, and Vice Chair Kim David, a former Senate majority floor leader.

Bingman, who challenged Anthony unsuccessfully in 2018, previously served as secretary of state from 2020 to 2023. Before that, he was a longtime legislator, serving in both chambers and ending his career as president pro tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate.  Hornback ran for corporation commissioner in 2022, losing in the Republican primary. Ray is a former journalist who currently serves as director of communications for Oklahoma CareerTech.

Bingman has a substantial advantage in campaign contributions over his two competitors. Reports filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission show that Bingman, through June 3, raised $399,096 in monetary contributions and spent $387,836, leaving him a balance of $11,260. He reported spending $305,970 on campaign media advertising, and he reported another $4,000 in continuing contributions June 12.

Through June 3, Hornback reported raising $26,415 in campaign funds and spending $9,567, leaving him a balance of $16,848. Ray reported raising $1,575 in monetary contributions and spending $1,467, leaving him a balance of $108.

If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote June 18, the race will go to an Aug. 27 runoff between the top two candidates.

The winner of the GOP nomination will face Democrat Harold Spradling, 89, and Libertarian Chad Willilams, 43, in the Nov. 5 general election. Spradling ran as a Republican in 2022, finishing fourth in the primary behind Hornback. Williams has served as a chairman of the Libertarian Party of Oklahoma and as a member of the Choctaw City Council.

The following cheat sheet for the Corporation Commission Republican primary election includes information from publicly available sources, such as campaign websites, social media and an article by Steve Metzer of the Tulsa World. Candidates are presented in alphabetical order.

For the June 18 primary election, polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early voting takes place June 13 through June 15.


Brian Bingman

Brian Bingman is seeking to be the Republican nominee for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in 2024. (Provided)

Age: 70

Profession/background: Bingman has worked 40 years in the oil and gas industry and has managed properties for oil and gas companies in Tulsa. He has spent more than 30 years in public office. His political career began when he was elected to the Sapulpa City Commission in 1992. Fellow commissioners elected him mayor in 1994. He served on the commission until 2004 when he was elected to the House of Representatives. After one term in the House, he was elected to the State Senate and held that seat until he was term limited in 2016. He served as president pro tempore of the Senate from 2011 until 2016. In 2020, Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed him as Oklahoma secretary of state and Native American affairs. He resigned from the governor’s Cabinet in September 2023 to run for corporation commissioner, and Stitt endorsed him. Bingman is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Business Administration in petroleum land management. He is a citizen of the Muscogee Nation.

Platform: Bingman answered a series of questions about his priorities and policy positions during a 2018 Corporation Commission debate hosted by NonDoc. Bingman emphasizes his experience in the oil and gas industry, telling the Tulsa World that it gives him a unique perspective that would benefit Oklahomans. He says Anthony is taking 36 years of experience of dealing with mostly energy matters with him when he leaves the Corporation Commission. On his campaign website, Bingman says he “will keep our state’s energy industry safe from President Joe Biden’s attacks on our oil and gas companies” and “will maintain a strong and reliable utility grid while protecting consumer’s pocketbooks.”

“I’m running because no one is more qualified to take on the attacks on our energy companies and the left’s radical attempt to destroy our industry and livelihoods,” Bingman says on his website. “My whole career has been spent serving Oklahomans and fighting for our interests. I will continue leading that charge as your next corporation commissioner.”

In addition to Stitt, Bingman’s website includes endorsements from U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin, U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1), Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, former Gov. Frank Keating and both Hiett and David.

Online: Website | Facebook

Justin Hornback

Justin Hornback is vying to be the GOP nominee for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in 2024. (Provided)

Age: 40

Profession/background: Hornback has worked 20 years in the energy sector as a pipeline worker, welding inspector and an industry safety and health specialist. He is a member of the Pipeliners Local 798 trade union. “This industry experience equips me with the knowledge and insights needed to navigate the intricate issues facing Oklahoma’s energy sector and make informed decisions that benefit both consumers and industry stakeholders,” he says on his campaign website.

Platform: Hornback answered a series of questions about his priorities and policy positions during a 2022 Corporation Commission debate co-hosted by NonDoc and News 9. On his website, Hornback says he will bring transparency and open communication to the Corporation Commission and that he wants to ease the difficulties that individuals and businesses face in voicing their concerns to regulatory bodies.

As a commissioner, Hornback says he would collaborate with legislators and other stakeholders to address common concerns and find solutions that benefit all parties. He says he will promote open communication and accessibility by making himself available to answer questions and address concerns from constituents.

“With a diverse background spanning multiple roles in the energy industry, I bring a wealth of experience to the table,” Hornback says on his website. “From my beginnings as a pipeline welder to my tenure as a welding inspector and specialist in safety and health, I’ve gained invaluable insights into the intricacies of the energy sector. Now, as a candidate for Oklahoma corporation commissioner, I am eager to leverage my expertise to serve the people of our great state. With a deep-rooted commitment to transparency, accountability, and open communication, I am dedicated to fostering a regulatory environment that prioritizes the well-being of our communities while promoting innovation and sustainable growth.”

Hornback has pledged not to accept political action committee donations or endorsements as part of his commitment to transparency.

Online: Website | Facebook

Russell Ray

Russell Ray, who is seeking to be the Republican nominee for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, poses with his family. (Provided)

Age: 55

Profession/background: Ray is communications director for Oklahoma CareerTech, a position he has held the past four years. Before that he was executive editor of The Journal Record, chairman and editor in chief of POWER-GEN International — a networking and business hub for power generation professionals — energy/political reporter for the Tampa Tribune and energy reporter for the Tulsa World. Ray and his wife, Deborah, a public-school teacher, live in Edmond and attend Henderson Hills Baptist Church. He is a member of the Oklahoma City Gun Club and National Rifle Association.

Platform: Ray said he believes in an all-of-the-above strategy to meet America’s energy needs. That includes the use of natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and energy storage. He said he fought the Obama administration’s war on coal, a conflict that rolled back decades-old policy that offered reasonable protections to power producers trying to provide customers an affordable and reliable supply of electricity.

On his website, Ray says Oklahoma utility customers are footing the bill for billions of dollars in questionable fuel costs, including interest payments, stemming from a massive winter storm in 2021. He writes that Winter Storm Uri raised questions about efforts to plan ahead for extreme weather conditions and incentives for utilities to mitigate their fuel costs, noting that utility companies are allowed to pass the cost of fuel on to customers at no markup.

“My concern is the commission isn’t challenging utilities to better control their fuel costs,” Ray said in his campaign announcement. “It was an extraordinary event that led to extraordinary consumer costs. The commission should have conducted a more thorough probe before approving those costs.”

On his website, Ray says good government begins with openness and transparency.

“The balance between the concerns of consumers and business is out of whack at the OCC right now,” Ray says. “The agency prioritizes business interests over consumer interests — that’s got to change.”

Ray says the Corporation Commission needs commissioners “who are not afraid to ask the state’s monopoly public utilities tough questions.”

“Amid all the recent controversy and rate hikes, the credibility of the OCC is at stake,” Ray said. “Adding another member of the political establishment to the commission will only make things worse. The Corporation Commission should not be a retirement home for term-limited former state legislators who treat it like a part-time job.”

Ray has been endorsed by Anthony “without reservation 100 percent,” according to an anonymous article in a publication called The Oklahoma Constitution.

Online: Website | Facebook

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