As of 2022[update], this remains the last time that a Democrat has been elected Governor of Oklahoma, or, along with the concurrent elections, won any statewide office. The GOP would make enormous gains at the state level just four years later, flipping every single statewide executive office from the Democrats, and gaining unified control of state government for the first time in history.
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As in many Southern states, Oklahoma has favored conservative Democrats to the more liberal members of the party. In his first term, Henry had supported some tax cuts and took centrist positions on many political hot button issues.
Istook's strongest opponent in the primary was Bob Sullivan, who positioned himself as the only "non-career politician" in the race. He ran ads featuring Gailard Sartain that attacked his opponents' "career politician" background. The Sartain ads were seen as over the top and may have hurt his chances. Sullivan said education was a top priority and had led an effort to place an initiative petition on the November 2006 ballot that would have required 65 percent of money earmarked for education be spent in the classroom.