Congressional Seats Up for Election
By: Constitution Staff
The U.S. Congress is composed of two chambers. Senators serve six-year terms with only a third of the seats up each election year. Each state has two seats in that upper chamber. Neither of Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senate seats are up for election in 2018. Senator Jim Inhofe was reelected in 2014 and his term will not expire until after the 2020 election. Senator James Lankford was reelected in 2016 and his term will not be up until after the 2022 election. All five Oklahoma seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up each election year since they serve two-year terms. The Primary Election was held on June 26, the Runoff Primary Election on August 28, and the General Election on November 6.
U.S. House – Fist District
First District (Tulsa area) incumbent Republican Jim Bridenstine did not run for a fourth term. When he first ran for Congress, Bridenstine pledged to only serve three terms. If there were any doubts whether he would change his mind and decide to run again, those were removed when he was nominated by President Trump to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The U.S. Senate confirmed Bridenstine’s appointment in April and he resigned his seat in Congress. Since the vacancy occurred during an election year, the seat is being filled in the regular election cycle. Ten candidates, including five Republicans and five Democrats, filed for the seat.
With five Republicans in the race, the Republican nominee was unlikely to be determined until the August 28 runoff primary between the two top finishers in the June 26 primary. Kevin Hern won the runoff primary with 55% if the vote, defeating Tim Harris, the former Tulsa County District Attorney. Kevin Hern, 56, is the owner of KTAK Coorporation which owns and operates ten McDonald’s restaurants which employs over 400 people in the Tulsa area. He has served as the chairman of the finance committee of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
It has been more than 30 years since a Democrat has held the seat, but five Democrats filed in the hope of flipping the open seat. As with the Republicans, with five Democrats in the race, it was considered unlikely that the nomination would be awarded in the June 26 election, and a runoff primary would be needed to select the nominee. Tim Gilpin won the runoff with 59% of the vote over Amanda Douglas, an oil and gas business analyst. Tim Gilpin, 57, of Tulsa has practiced law in Oklahoma since 1986 and served as an Assistant Attorney General under Robert Henry.
Hern is a strong supporter of the free enterprise system and the tax cuts pushed by President Donald Trump. He favors repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare). Gilpin thinks the tax cuts were a bad deal for most Americans and that the Affordable Care Act could still work if Republicans would give it a chance.
U.S. House – Second District
The Second District covers 26 counties in eastern Oklahoma, stretching south from the Kansas state line to the Red River border with Texas. After the 2010 census and minor redistricting, the district remains the most Democratic in the state in terms of registration. Congressman Markwayne Mullin, 40, is running for a another term. When he first ran for office in 2012, he said he would serve no more than six years in Congress, but decided to run for reelection anyway. Mullin owns Mullin Plumbing which spans much of the state. He also has ranching operations in Adair and Wagoner counties.
Mullin was opposed for the Republican nomination by three candidates. While there was a possibility of a runoff since there were more than two candidates competing for the nomination, that is less likely where there is an incumbent. The big question was if Mullin would get over 50 percent of the vote and avoid a runoff. Mullin received 54% of the vote, securing the nomination without a runoff. He is being challenged in the November election by the Democrat nominee, a Libertarian, and an independent candidate.
With four candidates vying for the Democrat nomination, a runoff primary was expected between the top two finishers in the June 26 primary election. Jason Nichols won the runoff with 57% of the vote over Clay Padgett, a retired Army Colonel and a veteran of Iraq/Afghan War. Jason Nichols, 43, is serving his second term as mayor of Tahlequah and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Northeastern State University where he is now an instructor of Political Science.
In addition to the Republican and Democrat candidates, there are two other candidates on the November election ballot. Richard Castaldo, 36, of Grove was the only Libertarian to file. He is a street pastor with Grand Lake Life. John Foreman, 53, of Park Hill filed as an independent. He has worked in call center and plasma center management.
U.S. House – Third District
The third district covers most of the north central and northwestern parts of the state, including the panhandle. Long-time Congressman Frank Lucas, 58, was first elected in a Special Election in 1994. He is the longest serving member among the current Oklahoma Delegation in the U.S. House, and is running for reelection. Lucas received accolades from many conservative Republicans when he was the lone member of the House of Representatives from Oklahoma to vote against the big bank bailout in 2008. He was unopposed for the Republican nomination this year, but will be challenged by the Democrat nominee in the General Election.
Since only two Democrats filed, the Democrat nominee was determined in the June primary. Frankie Robbins, 72, of Medford was the Democrat nominee and lost to Lucas in 2008, 2010, and 2016. He also ran in 2012, but lost in the primary election. He came out the winner in the June 26 primary with 65% of the vote over businessman Murray Mark Thibodeaux. Robbins, a Civil Engineer, is retired from the U.S. Forest Service.
U.S. House – Fourth District
The Fourth District covers much of the south central and southwestern parts of the state. Congressman Tom Cole, 68, is running for reelection. Cole was first elected to Congress in 2002. While serving in the state Senate back in the 1989-90 time period Cole compiled an 80% Oklahoma Conservative Index score, placing him in the Top Conservatives list. However, his record in Congress has been markedly less conservative. He had one challenger for the Republican nomination this year. Dr. James Taylor, was one of two Republicans to run against Cole in 2016 and finished in second placein that election. Dr. Taylor, who is black, is a U.S. History teacher and is the Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church in Norman. Congressman Cole again won the Republican nomination with 65% of the vote. He will be challenged in the November election by the Democrat nominee, and also an independent candidate.
With four candidates competing for the Democrat nomination, a runoff primary was needed as expected. Mary Brannon won the runoff with 57.5% of the vote over Fred Gipson, an attorney who served as a legislative assistant to Oklahoma U.S. Senator Fred Harris and later served as Chief Counsel to the University of Oklahoma and also taught Political Science and Higher Education Law. Mary Brannon, 66, is from Washington, Oklahoma. She is a teacher and school counselor.
Ruby Peters, 74, of Lawton is running as an independent. She is a retired teacher and school administrator. In 2016 she ran for a seat in the Oklahoma House.
U.S. House – Fifth District
The 5th District includes most of Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties. Former state Senator Steve Russell, 54, was elected to the seat in 2014 and was reelected in 2016. He is the author of We Got Him! A Memoir of the Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein and served 21 years as a combat Infantry officer in the US Army. Russell earned a 74% cumulative Conservative Index score during his tenure in the Oklahoma Legislature. He lives in Choctaw. He had two challengers for the Republican nomination this year. He defeated both in the June 26 primary election, winning nearly 84% of the vote.
As more Republicans voters have moved outside the Oklahoma City metro area, Democrats have been able to flip some legislative seats in the district to Democrat. This has given them hope that they could flip the seat in Congress as well. Six candidates filed for the Democrat nomination, which made a runoff primary nearly certain.
Kendra Horn won the Democrat runoff with 76% of the vote over Tom Guild who has become a perennial candidate. He was the only Democrat to file for the seat in 2012. He ran for the seat two years earlier, but lost in the primary. He also lost the Democrat nomination in 2014 and 2016. Guild taught political science and legal studies at the University of Central Oklahoma for 27 years and three years at Oklahoma City University.
Kendra Horn is a professional mediator and executive director of Women Lead Oklahoma which is a nonprofit organization working to empower women to be leaders and be engaged in civil activities. She was press secretary for former Second District Congressman Brad Carson and previously managed political campaigns and served as executive director of Sally’s List which supports women running for elected office. She lives in Oklahoma City and is a native of Chickasha. She has focused on attacking Congressman Russell for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).
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