His-and-her races are set for Osage Nation Principal Chief and Assistant Principal Chief as a result of vote counts Monday following the locally-based Indian tribe’s first-ever primary election.
Geoffrey Standing Bear and Margo Gray will face off in a June 2 Osage Nation General Election to decide which will be the next ON Principal Chief.
The general election matchup for Assistant Principal Chief will have Raymond Red Corn pitted against Amanda Proctor. They emerged as the two leaders in a five-candidate race for the tribe’s No. 2 executive office.
Standing Bear, a Pawhuska attorney, received more than 60 percent of nearly 1,800 votes cast in the three-candidate primary for the top tribal office win in Primary Election. Gray, a Tulsa-area businesswoman, edged out Pawhuskan Tom Boone, Jr., for the second spot on the general-election ballot.
Osage Nation election guidelines make no provision to allow for an automatic winner in a primary — regardless of the margin of victory, according to tribal officials.
Last Friday and Saturday, more than 200 Osages took advantage of early opportunities for in-person voting at the Osage Nation Election Office in downtown Pawhuska.
All of the in-person votes Monday were cast at the Wah Zha Zhi Center, an American Legion Hall/Cultural Center at 1449 W. Main which served as the lone polling place for the first-ever primary election in the history of the tribe. Nearly 500 ON members voted on Monday and hundreds of absentee ballots were also counted after being collected at the Pawhuska post office.
Current Osage Nation Principal Chief Scott BigHorse reportedly gave a prayer at the Wah Zha Zhi polling site just before the start of the day-long voting, which lasted from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
BigHorse, a former Oklahoma state legislator who is not seeking election to office, was elected Assistant Principal Chief in 2010 but was elevated to the tribe’s highest executive position in January following the Osage Nation Congress’s vote to remove Principal Chief John D. Red Eagle from office.
Red Eagle, who was in the final year of his initial term and had filed to run for re-election, was found guilty by the Congress on five allegations of abuse of power and official malfeasance.
Shortly after becoming principal chief, BigHorse appointed Terry Mason Moore to serve as assistant principal chief. Moore, who had already declared as a candidate for the office, finished a close third behind Proctor and Red Corn in Monday’s primary voting.
Unofficial results from Monday’s election for Osage Principal Chief showed Standing Bear with 1,080 votes, or 60.47 percent of all the votes that were cast in the primary race. Gray, with 359 votes (20.10 percent), edged Boone by a 12-vote margin. Boone received 347 votes, or 19.43 percent.
Standing Bear said late Monday that he found the majority endorsement in the primary to be "very humbling." He told the Journal-Capital that he intends to continue making efforts to gain the support of the "other 40 percent."
"I would like to represent the entire Osage Nation," said Standing Bear. "That is why I am planning to go to California later this week — so I can meet with Osages there and, hopefully, further improve my candidacy."
In the balloting for Osage Nation Assistant Principal Chief, Red Corn advanced to the June 2 election by garnering 707 votes (39.5 percent of the total number cast). Proctor placed second with 503 total votes, which was 62 more than Moore, the third-place finisher who was chosen by 441 (or 24.64 percent) of the voters. Two other Assistant Chief candidates were Randolph A. Crawford, who received 79 votes (4.41 percent), and Jimmy Dailey, who tallied 60 (3.35 percent).
The eight-candidate field for the two tribal executive offices made for a vastly smaller ballot than in Osage elections of the recent past. The June 2012 election had 34 candidates running for six Congressional seats. In 2010, the general election featured 20 candidates for Congress and 11 in the two executive races, with five seeking to be Principal Chief and six running for Assistant Principal Chief .
For the final day of voting Monday, Standing Bear was the only candidate to observe a longtime Osage tradition of establishing a camp in an area across the street from the Osage Congress/Osage Minerals Council building.
The Osage Tribal Museum, which is normally closed on Mondays, observed special hours for election day and remained open until the election results were announced shortly after 9 p.m..
Both remaining candidates in the two executive races will advance for the Osage Nation General Election on Monday, June 2, when six positions on the tribal Congress are also to be filled by tribal voters.
Late last month, two of the candidates in the race for assistant principal chief were assessed $500 fines after missing a deadline for submitting campaign contribution reports to the Osage Nation Election Board.
Amanda Proctor and Randolph Crawford both paid their fines last week, prior to the deadline required for remaining eligibles in the primary election, election officials said. Proctor had sent her report by e-mail, but it arrived two minutes after the posted deadline, election officials said. A late report also was received from Crawford, officials added.
The campaign contribution statements list all business and individual donations made to a candidate, as well showing expenditures made for each campaign. Two reports are to be made in the course of the different election cycles. Last year, the Osage Congress approved revised guidelines (including the stiff penalties) in an effort to strengthen the rules regulating tribal elections.