Fifth District Congressional Race
Oklahoma had not had a Democrat in Congress since 2012. But, in 2018, Democrat Kendra Horn surprisingly won the seat – the first time that a Democrat had won the district since John Jarman in 1974 – by ousting incumbent Republican Steve Russell. Because of this, and that the contest in the midterm was so close (Horn captured 121,149 votes to 117, 811 for Russell), this is a district that Republicans absolutely have to win in order to have a chance to regain control of the House.
The chances are good. Russell ran a rather lackadaisical campaign in 2018, and it is usual for the party which occupies the White House to lose some seats in the midterm following a presidential election. This is because many mistakenly become relaxed and complacent, satisfied that their guy is the president. Conversely, the party out of power in the presidency is slightly more energized. This 2020 election, however, will have a huge turn-out of energized supporters of President Donald Trump in a state which has not given a single county to a Democrat candidate for president since 2000.
Still, the Oklahoma City area, which makes up the majority of the population of the district, had been becoming more competitive for Democrats in recent elections. They had flipped a couple of legislative seats in special elections in recent years. That shift continued in the 2018 elections with the flipping of several more seats. In the 2018 governor’s race, despite being trounced statewide, Drew Edmondson became the first Democratic gubernatorial candidate to win Oklahoma County since Brad Henry’s reelection in 2006. In the November 2018 election, three seats in the Legislature (two Senate seats and one House seat) which had been held by Republicans, flipped to Democrat. So, Russell was not the only one to experience this Democratic shift. Horn won despite losing Pottawatomie and Seminole counties by significant margins. But Horn easily outpaced Russell in much of Oklahoma County, including some precincts where she received more than 90 percent of the vote.
Another factor that cannot be ignored is that Horn out raised and out spent Russell. Horn raised nearly $1.2 million and spent most of it. Russell raised just under $1 million, but still had nearly $300,000 in cash on hand at the end of the campaign. Mike Bloomberg’s Independence USA political action committee also joined in with over $400,000 in television ads supporting Horn and attacking Russell in the final week of the race.
The Democrat Party and the Horn campaign also deserve some credit for turning out the vote, not just on election day, but before. Russell was actually slightly ahead in the votes cast on election day, receiving 99,470 votes to Horn’s 98,972. However, Horn received 1,407 more of the absentee votes, and 2,429 more from the early voting. There was a concerted strategy to capture those votes, a strategy which succeeded.
So, while Republicans have a good chance to retake the seat, it is not a sure bet. Horn will again have a well funded campaign, and will again implement their turn out the vote strategy.
Challenging Horn is state Senator Stephanie Bice, a Republican from Oklahoma City. She became the Republican nominee by defeating eight other Republican hopefuls, including Terry Neese in the runoff primary in August. Bice graduated from Oklahoma State, then went to work in her family’s technology business. Bice is an Assistant Majority Floor Leader in the Senate.
While in the state Senate, Bice has received an A rating from the National Rifle Association, and has voted in favor of 12 of 14 pro-life bills.
During the 2020 legislative session, she voted for an anti-Red Flag Law, which would preempt all current or future proposed red flag laws coming from Washington, D.C., and make them null, void, and of no effect in Oklahoma. Red flag laws allow an individual’s firearms to be confiscated following nothing more than an anonymous accusation from either a family member or a law enforcement officer.
During her six years in the Oklahoma Senate, Bice has compiled a 56% cumulative Oklahoma Conservative Index score from the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper. While Bice is not as strong a conservative as many activists would like, this race is more about switching control of the U.S. House of Representatives, and this makes the central focus on the incumbent, Kendra Horn.
Whereas Bice would be fairly classified as a moderate conservative, Horn’s voting record places her in the Far Left of the Democratic Party. Horn’s Freedom Index score (compiled by The New American magazine, it scores the members of Congress according to their fidelity to the U.S. Constitution) of a mere 10% is even lower than that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!
A graduate of the University of Tulsa, Horn was the press secretary for First District Congressman Brad Carson, and she managed the gubernatorial campaign of fellow Democrat Joe Dorman in 2014. Upon taking office as a member of Congress, Horn joined the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democratic congressmen who cast themselves as more moderate.
But Horn’s voting record indicates that “moderate” is just an image she wants to project. For example, she has publicly said that she believes healthcare workers should either perform elective abortions or seek other employment. Such a rabid pro-abortion stance is typical of her left-wing voting record. She voted against an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to prohibit indefinite military detention of any person – even including American citizens. The proposed amendment would have required the transfer of the person to civilian courts for all the due process as provided under the Constitution.
She voted for the so-called Equality Act which would have allowed a person to use a restroom, locker room, or dressing room in accordance with that person’s gender identity. That means a man who identifies as a woman could take showers with girls – and there is no religious exemption to this insane proposal.
Horn voted to prohibit the use of federal funds to accomplish U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. She also supported legislation that would have mandated universal background checks on gun purchases, and would have essentially banned all private firearm sales and would have created a federal registry of all gun owners in the United States.
The choice in the Fifth District seems quite clear.