luke sherman

Luke Sherman, middle, announced on Wednesday that he was running for sheriff in the full four-year term with the support of four prior sheriff candidates. From left, Jason Jackson, Dan Miller, Sherman, John Fitzpatrick, and Tom Helm. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Less than a day after Vic Regalado was elected sheriff of Tulsa County, four of the top vote-getters from last month’s primary election are backing Luke Sherman in his attempt to knock off the incumbent this summer.

Regalado received 62 percent of the vote on Tuesday night, handily defeating democrat Rex Berry, but his victory came with a caveat.

Since the Tulsa Police Department Gang Unit Sergeant was elected to merely finish out departed sheriff Stanley Glanz’s term, which ends Dec. 31, Regalado will have to almost immediately begin re-election efforts. The primary election for the full four-year term will be in June, followed by a runoff in August, if necessary, then the general election in November.

John Fitzpatrick, who finished third March 1, as well as Tom Helm (fourth), Jason Jackson (fifth), and Dan Miller (sixth), are expected to publicly back Sherman at a press conference Wednesday afternoon at the Tulsa Press Club.

The lead-up to the March 1 primary was riveting for a number of reasons, not the least of which was the record amount of candidates looking to complete Glanz’s expiring term. But as the campaign carried on, several of the candidates expressed admiration for each other — after all, many of them already knew each other, and, for the most part, they all agreed on some of the specifics of how to fix the Sheriff’s Office.

And when Regalado easily won on March 1, they realized that rather than watch their votes split amongst themselves, they would have to come together as a group, backing one candidate, if they wanted to unseat Regalado.

“I believe, and I think that group (Fitzpatrick, Helm, Jackson, and Miller) believes that there are significant things that need to happen not just for that department, but for the community,” Sherman said on Tuesday. “And I don’t have faith in the current personnel headed to the Sheriff’s Office that they can push it back into a productive thing.”

Regalado had raised — and spent  —significantly more money prior to March 1, which gave him exposure no one else could match. Sherman raised the second-most money, according to campaign finance disclosures, but his total ($58,116) was dwarfed by the $155,120 Regalado collected.

Regalado also grabbed more than 40 percent of the total votes, cruising to victory. This time, Sherman hopes that by combining efforts, he can overcome that hurdle.

And mathematically, the strategy might give him a shot. Of the 82,079 votes cast March 1, 33,241 went to Reglado.

Sherman garnered only 13,288 votes (16 percent). However, combining his vote total with those of Fitzpatrick (12,310), Helm (10,504), Jackson (3,926) and Miller (2,800) would, in theory, be enough.

“It’s still going to be a process,” Sherman said, noting that it’s not as simple as “just expecting the votes to appear for me.”

“When I was voting (on Tuesday), people were asking me ‘Are you running?’ Sherman said. “There’s people voting who are asking me if I’m going to run. I think they understand that united we stand.”

Fitzpatrick, who finished third on March 1, said he knew he wanted to back Sherman almost as soon as the votes were being counted that night.

“It became obvious early on that Vic was going to win,” Fitzpatrick said on Tuesday. “I ran for sheriff because I believed that my background of a businessman with law enforcement history was what Tulsa County voters would want for sheriff. And it was not. As you look at the votes, you see that Luke finished second, not me. So if I want to do that right thing for Tulsa County, that means backing him.”

Jackson, a sergeant at the Jenks Police Department, said the group of five came together and asked each other which of them had the best chance to win in June.

“And the answer was Luke, I really believe that,” Jackson said. “The county is going down a path that won’t be easy to bring it back from. Nationally, we are not thought of well. We have a bad reputation as being corrupt. We need to get together and support a guy that is going to do that right thing, and that guy is Luke.”

Vic Wins

Surrounded by family, Tulsa County Sheriff-elect Vic Regalado celebrates his election victory on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

While speaking Tuesday night following his election win over Berry, Regalado said it would “be tough” to not only begin his career as sheriff, but also to clean up the Sheriff’s Office while simultaneously staging a second campaign.

“I’m going to bring great people in; there’s great people there,” Regalado said. “We’re going to come with a 30-60-90 (day) plan, we’re going to see what can be fixed immediately, and then we’re going to move from there.

“Then we’re going to look at long-term solutions to the budget, we’re going to look at long-term solutions to the manpower and the turnover rate there, and we’re going to look forward to just getting after it.”