Oklahomans were shocked when Democratic incumbent Kendra Horn was unseated by Republican challenger Stephanie Bice on election night.
Throughout the entire race, multiple polls projected Horn to win and both candidates ran a tight campaign as Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District has turned into a swing district.
Free Press covered Horn’s watch party on election night and saw a unique tone being projected by the congresswoman. While seemingly devastated from the loss, she spoke with optimism as she repeatedly reminded the crowd that she’s “not done yet.”
We spoke with the Congresswoman over the phone a few days after and found that she still holds the same silver-lining views about the election results.
Reflecting on the Campaign
Horn explained that she was disappointed with the results but still plans to continue business as usual until her term is officially over.
“It’s disappointing, but I’m proud of the work we did because we brought Oklahomans with us and I’m still proud of my team and the coalitions we built,” she said.
The Congresswoman explained that she was proud of developing bipartisan support that she showed through her work.
Notable examples included pulling a political upset in 2018 when she flipped the congressional seat that had remained red for decades and sponsoring/co-authoring over 20 bills that were signed into law by President Trump.
According to GovTrack, Horn ranked 11th out of all freshman house members for getting bipartisan co-sponsors for authored bills. She sponsored many bills pertaining to pandemic relief, education, international policy, and even military aid.
“I am incredibly proud of the work that I did fighting for military families, getting the Tenants Bill of Rights in last year’s defense authorization bill, and the work I’ve done taking care of our veterans, and prevent suicide in our veterans population,” she said.
When asked what she thought was the principle reason for her defeat, Horn did not give a clear answer at first, however, the conversation eventually turned into one about dark money.
“I think this race really shows the importance of us getting a handle on dark money and the outside influence because the money that was spent, the attacks that were leveled against me were, by and large, by outside organizations that don’t have any disclosure requirements,” Horn said.
One example of this is the Congressional Leadership Fund who has spent millions of dollars to create anti-Horn campaign ads that were displayed on tv and online. In total, the group has spent over $120 million against Democratic Party candidates throughout the country and have arguably been quite effective in their messaging.
Oil and Gas
In one commercial made by the National Republican Congressional Committee, a woman talks about her hard work as a home-builder and goes on to say that Kendra Horn has voted against the interests of the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma.
While her voting record shows that she has only voted on bills that pertain to stopping oil well drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, she has not directly voted in a way that impacted the oil and gas industry directly in Oklahoma.
There is much speculation about why she lost. But, the conversation and misinformation around her record on oil and gas was constantly in campaign rhetoric. Free Press covered her last debate with Congresswoman-elect Bice in which a considerable amount of time was dedicated to the oil and gas industry.
“That misinformation is powerful, which is why we deserve to have a light shed on dark money,” said Horn.
A Bipartisan Campaign
“I think beyond this campaign, there was more happening at a national level that wasn’t about me or this race that caused people to turn out,” Horn said.
“And I think part of that goes to the narrative that’s been built around our politics in this country—the idea that people are either far left or far right—when I know that the truth is that more Oklahomans and people across this country are closer to the center.”
In terms of future plans, Horn did not go into detail about her next move. According to SpaceNews, Horn is being considered as a choice for the Biden administration’s Administrator of NASA.
“Right now my focus is on serving Oklahomans in the fifth district throughout my term…and beyond that I’m going to see what’s next and see how I can show up and serve.”