Kendra Horn
Rep. Kendra Horn, above, faces a packed field of Republican candidates for the 2020 election (Addison Kliewer)

WASHINGTON Campaign reports indicate a competitive Republican primary contest is shaping up in Oklahoma’s 5th congressional district while incumbent U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn (D-OK5) keeps up an aggressive fundraising pace.

One of the top Republican candidates for Oklahoma’s 5th congressional seat is sitting state Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-OKC), who has been in office since 2014, already had $334,105 cash-on-hand at the beginning of 2020. She has gathered another $15,500 from Political Action Committees. 

Gaylord NewsThis story was reported by Gaylord News, a Washington reporting project of the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma.

Another name in the running is Republican Janet Barresi. Elected in 2010, Barresi served one term as superintendent of public instruction. She has now entered the primary in CD 5, with $435,233 cash-on-hand at the start of the first quarter in 2020. Barresi also contributed half a million dollars to boost her campaign.

The race in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, comprised mostly of Oklahoma City along with Pottawatomie and Seminole counties, is shaping up to be one of the most expensive in recent history.

Horn reported she has already raised $200,000 more than all eight GOP candidates combined in hopes of repeating her shocking victory two years ago. Horn reported she started the 1st quarter of 2020 with $1.82 million cash-on-hand. 

Among the other GOP candidates, Republican Terry Neese started the first quarter of 2020 with $655,266 cash on hand. She boosted her campaign with $450,000 in loans. Neese received $2,500 from Political Action Committees for her campaign.

However, Keith Gaddie, University of Oklahoma journalism and political science professor, said it’s too early to talk about money.

“Kendra Horn is the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in the U.S. House,” said Gaddie.

The real question is who the Republican Party nominee is going to be. 

Gaddie said an open seat primary election is not going to be about PAC money; there will be plenty of national Republican money that comes flooding in once there is a nominee. 

“The question is to what extent is a dollar that Bice has gotten from a voter more valuable than a dollar Barresi or Neece has gotten from themselves. We don’t know yet,” Gaddie said. “It’s how those dollars translate those candidates into people who carry a message and voters want.”

Neese won the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in 1990 when she made state history by becoming the first woman in Oklahoma to do so, though she did not win the general election. Since then, she has become a business woman in Oklahoma, receiving multiple awards and spearheading the Peace Through Business initiative.

Horn awaiting general election

Michael Crespin, curator of the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center and professor of political science at the University of Oklahoma, also weighed in on the financial aspect of Oklahoma’s CD 5 race. Crespin explained there wouldn’t be the amount of money being seen in the Republican primaries if the GOP wasn’t confident they can pick up that seat. 

David Kimmell Hill Sr., owner of MAR-K Manufacturing and former CEO of Kimray Inc., is entering the race and beginning the 1st quarter of 2020 with $172,426 cash-on-hand. 

With no previous political experience, candidates Oakley Claron Jacob and Daniel Joseph Belcher have yet to raise any campaign funds, leaving six candidates still in the running. 

Horn said she welcomes the challenge.

“The record-breaking support we received shows people are standing with our shared values and standing against the politics of divisiveness that hold us back from working together for the common good,” said Horn. “I am grateful for the support of those who share our values and our vision.” 

Despite the support, Horn spoke about the Oklahoma State Election Board recording only 37.9 percent Democratic registration in her district. Oklahoma is still a primarily red state despite the shift in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, which elected her in the first place and has become more blue.

Other federal races in Oklahoma

Another Oklahoma incumbent facing challenges in the 2020 election cycle is Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) who has served Oklahoma in D.C. since 1994. 

Inhofe has yet to officially announce whether he is running for re-election, but he has continued to fundraise. He reported raising $608,430 for the 2019 year and begins the first quarter of 2020 with $2.3 million cash-on-hand. 

In 2014, when Inhofe was last up for reelection, he announced his campaign in an interview with local radio station, KRMG, in August 2013. 

While six months behind his last campaign schedule and yet to announce his campaign for the 2020 election, Inhofe showed what others looked at as a campaign video at a birthday event back in November. 

If he does announce, Inhofe will have five Democrats and one Republican running for the Senate seat. Inhofe and gun shop owner JJ Stitt would face off in a Republican primary.

Stitt, who is not related to Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, has raised nearly $6,500 and will begin the first quarter of 2020 with $377 cash-on-hand.

Among the Democrats running for the Democratic nomination, candidate Abby Broyles has raised the most money at almost $64,000 and began the first quarter of 2020 with $42,377 cash-on-hand. 

The other Oklahoma incumbents up for reelection, U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1), U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4), U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2) and U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK3), have filed reports with the Federal Election Commission which show them far ahead of their competitors.