In a win that suggests he’ll likely secure a third term as principal chief of the Osage Nation, Geoffrey Standing Bear garnered 52.61 percent of the votes in the primary election that was tallied April 4.
His nearest competitor, Joe Tillman, amassed more votes than Standing Bear on Election Day – 46.65 percent compared to Standing Bear’s 37.2 percent – but came up short overall with 37.12 percent of the vote. That second-place finish is enough to earn Tillman a place in the general election in June. In all voting – absentee, early and election day – Standing Bear received 1,050 votes compared to Tillman’s 741.
Eliminated from the race was Angela Pratt, who got 10.27 percent of the vote, or 205 of the total 1,996 votes casts.
R.J. Walker and Thomas Trumbly will face off for assistant chief in June, but Walker had a commanding lead out of the primary with 65.7 percent of the 1,936 votes cast in that race. Eliminated was Joseph Thornton, who trailed Trumbly by just 24 votes. Trumbly got 18.87 percent of the votes compared to Thornton’s 16.9 percent.
Tillman will have to wrest votes that were cast by primary voters for Standing Bear or drum up bigger voter turnout in the general election in order to win – a goal that might be achievable considering that only 11.47 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.
“I’m good,” Tillman said. “Our goal was to make the top two. It’s a dead-even horse race.”
Standing Bear was subdued. “Work harder and congratulations to Angela and Joe for running strong campaigns, and that’s it,” he said.
Walker also had few words: “Thanks to all who got out and voted,” he said. “I appreciate the support.”
The race for assistant chief has been quiet, with little active campaigning for the job whose salary is rising from $75,000 to $115,000 a year.
Thanks to a vote by the Osage Nation Congress, the chief’s salary is also increasing, to $150,000 from $95,000, which is where it was set in 2006.
The April 4 election results are unofficial until the board certifies them; candidates have until April 8 at 4:30 p.m. to contest the results for cause.
The election appeared to go smoothly; all votes were counted within 50 minutes of the polls closing at 8 p.m., and Election Supervisor Alexis Rencountre, accompanied by staff, Election Board members, and volunteers, announced the preliminary results in front of the Minerals Council offices after arriving there at 9:08 p.m.
As Rencountre walked up to a microphone, a few clusters of voters and candidate families were already waiting in the chilly drizzle for the results; others emerged from their cars, doors thudding, to catch her announcement of results.
Senior Reporter Benny Polacca contributed to this report.