4 minute read

The Republican runoff for Oklahoma’s 5th congressional district proved to be a shockingly close gunfight between gingham-clad pistol-grabber Terry Neese and sharp shooting State Sen. Stephanie Bice, who outgunned Neese in her campaign ads by actually discharging her weapon. In the end, Bice had better aim, eking out a win by just over 3,000 votes.

What we now face is a swing to the center for Bice, who just spent the runoff competing with Neese over who could be more of a National Rifle Association dream candidate. Now, Neese will not face a barrage of wilting fact-checks, and Bice can try to sweep all that gun-nuttery under the rug while the full force of the National Republican Congressional Committee begins painting centrist Democratic incumbent Kendra Horn as a secret member of MS-13.

Opinion

Opinion

by George Lang, opinion writer for Free Press

It is not as if Bice is lacking a narrative. She found favor with moderates and liberals when she sponsored State Question 792 in 2016. Now, it certainly helps to be able to restock the cabinet on a Sunday during this blighted hellhole of a year and not have to buy the 3.2 near-beer that could wear out someone’s kidneys before they reach a mild buzz. But under SQ 792, the number of distributors was reduced and a duopoly took hold after Walmart spent $1.6 million on the campaign.

I’m not complaining — much — but that only looks like consumer advocacy through beer goggles.

That is, of course, settled law, but now we must wonder how Bice, a member of a party without a platform, would legislate if President Donald J. Trump swindles us again and wins reelection. Since Bice does not have a party platform to stand on, we can expect her to demonize Horn by tying her to conservative targets like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and socialism, a system by which most of the Western world takes care of its own.

But then there are the policies we know about. Even if Bice stops brandishing and firing weapons in her general election ads, she still carries a 93 percent rating from the NRA, an organization that is currently the object of a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James to dissolve the organization after years of self-dealing and corruption.

Bice brags about her “A” rating from the NRA on her campaign website in a state where any nutter with a grudge against civil society can walk amongst our friends and children with an AR-15 slung over one shoulder. If Bice is looking out for that guy rather than those of us concerned about our society becoming inured to the prevalence of gun violence, then no thank you.

She is running for Congress in a state where, according to Feeding America, one in five children struggles with hunger, but on her issues page, she only mentions the unborn. Oklahomans need help with the children we have, and Bice’s support of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos does not bode well for Oklahoma children needing safe education solutions during the coronavirus epidemic.

Just for the sake of gun jokes, it is tempting to say that, with Neese’s defeat, Oklahoma’s 5th dodged a bullet, but I honestly do not think that is true. Bice runs ads saying that she “stands with Trump,” which is not what being a member of Congress is about.

Anyone who stayed awake in 8th grade civics class can explain the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, so I am sick to death of candidates like Bice promising to stand with an authoritarian. Trump is a clear and present danger to our democracy, and considering the number of violations of the Hatch Act that took place during Tuesday’s Republican National Convention, we need to send people to Congress who are willing to stand up to the tyranny and corruption of the Trump Administration.

When Bice says she “stands with Trump,” it is blind adulation. We need critical, independent minds, not rubber stamps for someone who wants to be president for life. But Bice, who is all-in on Trump’s border policy and promises vaguely to “stand up to China,” whatever that means, is not who Oklahoma needs right now. She had an opportunity to be the voice of 21st century, but she is running a 1990s conservative campaign full of bogeymen and bad alliances.


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