A term-limited state senator and a law professor are seeking to fill a vacancy on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
The three-member body is tasked with regulating oil and gas drilling, along with utility and telecommunications companies operating in Oklahoma. Commissioners are elected to six-year terms.
The corporation commission drew criticism in January when it voted 2-1 to pass onto consumers a $1.37 billion natural gas bill accumulated during the February 2021 winter storm. Through a process called securitization, Oklahoma consumers will pay up to $7.80 per month over the next 25 years to cover the bill. Outgoing commissioner Dana Murphy voted yes on the plan.
While state ethics rules bar corporation commissioners from having a personal or financial interest in the utility companies they regulate, the corporations are regular contributors to political campaigns. An Oklahoma Watch and Floodlight News investigation in January found commissioners received more than $200,000 in contributions from the employees or political action committees tied to the companies they regulate.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the candidates and issues they’re running on:
Democrat Warigia Margaret Bowman, associate professor at the University of Tulsa College of Law.
Republican Kim David, term-limited state senator for Senate District 18. Owner of Sweetgum Properties, Inc.
Independent Don Underwood. Underwood does not have a publicly accessible campaign website or social media page.
What They’re Running On
Bowman touts her legal background, saying she has the experience necessary to challenge powerful energy companies. She also says she would work to modernize Oklahoma’s electrical grid and expand rural broadband access.
David describes herself as a conservative leader with experience working across government agencies. During a June primary candidate debate, she said she would support requiring utility companies to submit updated disaster contingency plans.