On Tuesday night, the Oklahoma County Republican Party hosted an election watch party to celebrate their frontrunner in the most competitive Oklahoma federal race, Stephanie Bice.
Decorated in red, white, and blue American-themed decor, Make America Great Again hats floated throughout the room while Oklahoma Republicans waited patiently for the election results.
When the congresswoman-elect took the stage at her watch party, she was greeted by an enthusiastic crowd.
“I am thrilled that once again Oklahoma is on the federal level…red. But, let’s be clear, the real work begins tomorrow because I’ve gotta go to work to give Nancy Pelosi a new title and that is former speaker of the house,” Bice said during her victory speech.
Evening of turns
And in the end, Bice won with roughly 52% of the vote, unseating Congresswoman Kendra Horn in Oklahoma’s fifth U.S. Congressional District.
Horn was leading in the polls for most of the night until an hour before election results were fully reported as Bice began to jump ahead. Eventually, she won by over 10,000 votes.
This dynamic change in polling results speaks volumes on the unique layout of the district. Having the largest population out of all of the congressional districts, it is surprisingly only made up of three counties: Oklahoma, Pottawatomie, and Seminole.
Despite Seminole and Pottawatomie county being dwarfed by Oklahoma County, they heavily contributed to Bice’s win as she gained nearly 70% of the vote in both counties.
Another added surprise to the election was that even though Oklahoma County is home to more registered Republicans than Democrats, Horn won the county by 2,000 votes. Meanwhile, Pottawatomie county holds more registered Democrats than Republicans but still went to Bice.
This will be the district’s second flip as Horn defeated two-term former Republican Congressman Steven Russel by a thin margin in 2018.
The competitiveness of the district can be explained by the increase of young and progressive voters in Oklahoma City and an increasing immigrant community.
At the watch party, appearances were made by notable Republicans such U.S. Congressmen Tom Cole, Frank Lucas, and Kevin Hern along with U.S. Senator James Lankford and Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt.
“She’s been very engaged in issues like criminal justice, education—all the areas [that] they were trying to attack her are actually areas that she has worked on a lot,” Senator Lankford told Free Press.
Oil and gas
Lankford highlighted a focal point in the congressional race as Bice was repeatedly criticized for her voting record on education. More specifically, the Horn campaign brought to surface Bice’s vote for a 2016 education budget cut.
On the other side, Bice questioned Horn on her record for helping the oil and gas industry.
In their last debate before the elections, which Free Press covered, she mentioned that Kendra Horn voted for a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and was given a 0% score by the American Energy Alliance.
Talks about the oil and gas industry and education symbolize two hair-splitting issues that future candidates in the district will undoubtedly need to focus their campaign efforts on in order to win.
And in the larger picture of this tight race, Bice and Horn consistently fought against the other with scathing TV ads on top of outside PACS investing millions of dollars into ads on YouTube, Facebook, and other online platforms.
With a win for Bice, she can arguably add some changes to the House of Representatives.
“I’m [the] ranking member of the [Committee on Science, Space, and Technology]. That means that the Republicans are in the minority,” U.S. Congressman Frank Lucas explained to Free Press.
“If I want to be chairman of the science committee, I have to have a Republican majority, which means I have to have Congresswoman Bice.”
Lucas also mentioned that Bice will be a long-term investment for Oklahoma Republicans as she is young and could maintain a stronghold over the fifth congressional district for years to come.
This is especially important to note as the United States’s House of Representatives has a Democratic Party majority by only a thin margin.
And if these margins grow smaller in the future, then this congressional district could gain even more national attention and consequently be more difficult to win for any candidate running.
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