OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — Democrat Abby Broyles filed a statement of candidacy earlier this week to challenge first-term incumbent Republican Rep. Stephanie Bice for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District in the 2022 election.
CD-5 includes most of Oklahoma County and the bulk of City of Oklahoma City residents.
In an interview with Free Press, Broyles criticized Bice for advocating for the January 6 Capitol rioters more than for the people of her own district.
Broyles also criticized Bice for voting against the infrastructure bill and not providing leadership in healthcare when Oklahoma is seeing a surge in the COVID-19 D variant.
Bice unseated Democratic incumbent Kendra Horn in November’s election by 4 points, flipping the seat back to the Republican party.
Broyles, a former television reporter and now an attorney, ran against Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe in the U.S. Senate race in November but ultimately lost by 30 percentage points in the state-wide contest.
Decision to run
In an interview with Free Press, Broyles said she decided to run for the congressional seat after attending a town hall meeting last week held by Bice in Broyles’ hometown of Bethany, OK.
“I listened to her talk more passionately about looking out for the January 6 mob that attacked our Capital than she was talking about looking out for everyday Oklahomans,” Broyles said.
An attendee at the town hall meeting asked Bice what is being done to the “political prisoners” that were arrested after the US Capitol attacks. The attendee said he heard rumors that they were being abused and treated unfairly.
Responding to the question, Bice said that she has written letters to the Department of Justice expressing concerns that those arrested were being held in solitary confinement and deprived of a fair trial but has not received a response yet.
Fact check: Most of the defendants charged with crimes in the Jan. 6 riots have been released from custody as they await trial. Some of them remain in jail and some have been held in solitary confinement after legal proceedings that determined their risk to society. There is currently no evidence that the defendants are being treated unfairly or being denied a fair trial.
“I walked into that town hall meeting last week as a constituent and I walked out a candidate,” Broyles said during the interview.
According to her campaign website, Broyles’ priorities include economic security, healthcare, renewable energy, economic development, criminal justice reform, and education.
Broyles said that in her conversations with District 5 residents, many are specifically concerned about issues such as infrastructure and healthcare.
“I think that most people that I talked to in the Fifth District are frustrated with the fact that all of our federal delegation voted against the infrastructure bill,” Broyles said. “We badly need to update our roads and bridges and highways systems here in Oklahoma.”
The U.S. Senate advanced the $1.2 trillion dollar infrastructure framework last month on a bipartisan 69-30 vote, which would make historic investments in transportation infrastructure, universal broadband infrastructure, clean water, and other investments.
Broyles said that the other main concern from people in the district is healthcare in regards to the surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state. According to Broyles, Republican leaders in the state haven’t done enough to encourage Oklahomans to continue to wear masks and get vaccinated.
“If I were in Congress, I would be encouraging everyone in my district to not only get vaccinated but to do things that are going to keep their family safe,” Broyles said. “Too many Oklahomans have died because of this virus and the lack of leadership in both D.C. and in the state of Oklahoma.”
District 5 realities
The 5th Congressional District is in the central part of the state, including most of Oklahoma County and all of Seminole and Pottawatomie counties.
According to the Oklahoma State Election Board, registered Republican voters outnumber Democrats in all three counties that make up District 5.
However, Oklahoma’s two urban centers of Tulsa and Oklahoma City are where the Democratic Party is strongest and closest to being politically “purple.”
The district seat had been traditionally Republican-led since 1975 until Horn defeated incumbent Rep. Steve Russell in 2018. Horn’s victory flipped the seat to the Democratic party for the first time in 44 years.
When asked what it would take to flip the seat back to the Democratic party after Bice’s victory in November, Broyles said it’s going to come down to voter turnout and her campaign’s ability to connect with voters in the district.
“Running for office isn’t easy, especially doing it two cycles in a row but I’m so passionate about serving that I think that shows through,” Broyles said. “I think we’re going to be able to flip this seat because our campaign is going to give people hope and something to believe in.”
Last Updated September 5, 2021, 8:33 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor