Tuesday night marked the last time Senator Stephanie Bice and Congresswoman Kendra Horn would step on the same debate stage before the election.
This was their third debate and it was moderated by Fox 25’s Dan Snyder and Wendy Suares.
Going into this debate, Senator Bice was facing heavy critiques of her voting record on education spending while in office and her desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Meanwhile, Congresswoman Horn needed to make her case for why she is bipartisan and how she is truly supporting the oil and gas industry.
Some of the main debate topics included the pandemic, education, bipartisanship, and local businesses.
With less than a month left until the November elections, Free Press will be providing coverage of races in the Oklahoma City metro area in depth. By doing so, we hope that you, the reader, gain a better understanding of the choices you will have on November 3.
Oklahoma and COVID-19
With Oklahoma still being in the red zone for COVID-19 cases, implementing mask mandates was one of the first issues highlighted.
Bice started the debate by making it clear that she does not support a nation-wide or state-wide mask mandate.
She explained that it doesn’t make sense, in her view, to have national mandates when the circumstances are different for each city and state. On top of that, she emphasized that the economy and schools can not take a back seat to the pandemic.
Horn, on the other hand, responded to the mask mandate question by saying that she does support it because health experts have suggested that wearing masks is an effective way of decreasing the spread of COVID-19.
The Affordable Care Act came up. Horn is an avid critic of Bice for wanting to repeal the ACA. However, Bice believes that the ACA has done more harm than good with the increased prices in premiums and prescription drug prices for middle-class Americans.
Both candidates were asked how they would help Oklahoma businesses.
Horn started off by touting her support for the paycheck protection program that she helped implement by virtue of voting in favor of the CARES Act.
She also said that there were roughly 62,000 loans allotted to local businesses under the program and went on to say that this would not have been done if it were not for bipartisan support.
Bice responded by questioning Horn’s bipartisan record as the Congresswoman could vote to release the remaining CARES Act funds to help Oklahomans.
Both candidates were asked how they would handle ensuring that public education funding in Oklahoma continues to expand.
Horn repeatedly remarked on the importance of always making public dollars going to public schools. And she even mentioned she was critical of Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt and Secretary of Education Betsy Devos for trying to use CARES Act funds for private schools.
Senator Bice mentioned that during the 2018 teacher strike she voted to allot over half a billion dollars towards teacher pay raises and voted in 2019 for another teacher pay raise.
The debate then became highly contentious when Horn mentioned that in 2016 Bice voted in favor of a nearly $60 million budget cut for education.
Bice countered that the money was later backfilled and replaced quickly.
The focal point of the debate was arguably both candidates’ stances on their opponent’s record of being bipartisan.
The topic is a double-edged sword as being relatively moderate compared to their respective party’s extremes helped them win their primaries, however, the term was also used against them.
Ironically, they were critiquing each other for being partisan while both had voted with their party the majority of the time.
Bice consistently argued throughout the debate that Horn has voted with Nancy Pelosi roughly 90% of the time. Bice implied that despite Horn not voting for progressive policies like the green new deal, voting with her party spoke volumes.
Horn responded by saying multiple times that she is part of the bipartisan “problem-solvers caucus” made up of half Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Oil & Gas – Climate Change
The moderators asked the candidates how they will support the oil and gas industry in Oklahoma while also being mindful of climate change.
Horn mentioned the attack ads calling her anti-oil and gas industry and defended herself by saying that she voted for a moratorium on oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic Ocean, which does not impact Oklahoma oil and gas wells.
Bice rebutted the congresswoman by bringing up her 0% score from the American Energy Alliance, a pro-oil-gas lobbying and influence group funded in large part by the Koch Brothers.
The candidates, however, both agree that climate change is real and that there needs to be measures taken to reverse the environmental damages to Oklahoma.
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