By Jim EllisAug. 25, 2020 — Voters in the Oklahoma City area will go to the polls today to choose a Republican general election opponent for freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma City) who scored a major upset victory here in 2018. The Sooner State’s 5th District race is one of the top national congressional races, and a Republican must win if the party is to have any chance of re-taking the House majority they lost two years ago.
The 5th District of Oklahoma had been a Republican domain since 1977 when GOP candidate Mickey Edwards captured the seat after 47 consecutive years of Democratic representation, though in the final two years of Rep. John Jarman’s 26-year congressional career before retiring, he served as a Republican.
During the interval between Edwards’ election and 2018, four other Republicans were elected here including future Gov. Mary Fallin and current US Sen. James Lankford. In 2018, then-Rep. Steve Russell lost to Horn in a 51-49 percent result, a margin of 3,338 votes.
Today’s GOP competitors are former lieutenant governor nominee Terry Neese, from both the 1990 and 1994 elections, and state Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City). In the June 30 Republican primary, Neese secured 36.5 percent of the vote, outdistancing Bice’s 25.4 percent from a turnout of 68,032 GOP votes cast. A total of seven Republicans were on the ballot. A mandatory 50 percent was required for outright nomination. With no one receiving the required majority, the top two finishers, Neese and Bice, advanced into today’s runoff election.
Both Neese and Bice were the top fundraisers for the primary. For the campaign through the Aug. 5 pre-election period before this runoff, Bice had raised over $1.463 million, just ahead of Neese’s $1.235 million. According to Neese’s financial disclosure report, however, $450,000 of her receipts were self-contributed in the form of a candidate loan. Helping Neese has been an ongoing $982,000-plus media independent expenditure from the Club for Growth whose leadership is opposing Bice. An expenditure of this size obviously gives Neese a huge boost in the runoff election.
For her part, Rep. Horn has raised over $3.6 million and, without a primary challenge, has over $2.619 million in her campaign account to start the general election. Coming from 11 original Republican candidates, the aggregate GOP fundraising figure exceeds $4.128 million, but most of that money will have been expended through the nomination process.
Rep. Horn will begin the official general election with a large resource advantage and tonight’s GOP winner will quickly have to play catch-up. The victor will be able to count on a large Republican Party independent expenditure to even the score, but Rep. Horn will surely see outside allies of her own entering the campaign to aide her re-election effort.
The 5th District of Oklahoma contains just over 91 percent of Oklahoma County, and all of Oklahoma City. Therefore, the OKC metro area comprises 87 percent of the district. Two small counties to the southeast, Pottawatomie and Seminole, are added to CD-5 to meet the population requirement. Demographically, the district Citizen Voting Age population reveals a non-Hispanic white figure of 62.4 percent, a 14.1 black percentage, 11.2 percent are recorded as Hispanic, and 4.4 percent Native American.
Politically, President Trump carried the CD with a 53-40 percentage. In the congressional races before 2018, the district typically performs in the high 50s to low 60s for Republican candidates when Democrats have attempted to contest the seat.