Former television reporter Abby Broyles launched her candidacy for the U.S. Senate this afternoon, saying incumbent Republican James Mountain Inhofe “cares more about what’s right or left than what’s right or wrong.”
“This is a year we can change Washington, and we can do it together,” Broyles says in the campaign announcement video linked above. “The time for change is now.”
Broyles, 30, said she filed as a Democrat to challenge Inhofe, who will turn 85 this month.
“The main reason I’m running is because I believe there needs to be a new generation of leadership in Washington. I’m passionate about the people here and the future of our state,” Broyles said in a phone interview Monday. “I think Jim Inhofe has spent a lot of time in Washington and hasn’t gotten things done for us the way we need to get things done. I think it’s the time for change.”
Inhofe has served in Washington since 1987 and in the U.S. Senate since 1994. He is currently chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and has historically referenced support of Oklahoma’s military bases in previous elections.
Most recently, Inhofe won re-election in 2014 with 68 percent of the vote over Democrat Matt Silverstein, who received 28 percent, and three independent candidates. Prior to that in 2008, Inhofe defeated Democrat Andrew Rice 56 percent to 39 percent.
Broyles said three of her top issues include health care, school safety and “doing more for veterans.” A graduate of Bethany High School, Broyles said she recognizes issues that are important to rural Oklahomans.
“I think they face a lot of issues that we do in urban areas,” Broyles said. “But especially when it comes to health care, we’ve seen our rural hospitals close in many areas, and part of that is because of our broken health care system.”
Dylan Billings also running in Democratic U.S. Senate primary
While Broyles has substantial name identification in central and western Oklahoma owing to her years at KFOR, she completed law school at Oklahoma City University in May and passed the bar in July. She said her employment at Channel 4 ended last week and that she has also has been practicing law.
Broyles is not the first Democrat to announce opposition to Inhofe, but rather the fifth. University of Central Oklahoma political science professor Dylan Billings is also running as a Democrat. Other candidates include Bevon Rogers, Elysabeth Britt and Tyler Dougherty. Britt later announced she would not be running. Mike Workman has also announced a candidacy, but his FEC candidacy does not appear filed.
Billings and Broyles are both 30, which is the minimum age required to serve as a U.S. senator.
“I think it’s great that more people are getting involved,” Billings said after learning of Broyles’ entry into the 2020 race. “Competition is great when it comes to these types of things, especially when it comes to defeating somebody who I think has been as awful as Sen. Inhofe. We can say that, right?”
Billings, an Edmond native who received a Ph.D. in political science and public policy from the University of Oklahoma, teaches at the University of Central Oklahoma.
“I think the biggest issue for Oklahoma is just economic stability and how Oklahoma is going to poise itself as a contender in an economy that is ever changing,” Billings said. “What we need to be doing is investing in human capital more than anything else, making sure we are training our next generation of workers the way they need to be trained.”
Reached Monday afternoon, a representative of Inhofe’s office declined to comment on Broyles’ announcement. Republicans JJ Stitt and Tammy Swearengin have also filed with the FEC to seek the seat.
(Editor’s note: Andrew Rice founded NonDoc in 2015 but sold the publication in 2016.)
(Correction: This post was updated at 6:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 4, to note that Broyles is the fifth Democrat to file for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma. NonDoc regrets the error.)