State Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-OKC) battled through a runoff and a brutal general election campaign to narrowly defeat incumbent Democrat U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn on Tuesday.
In the end, the spread was thin, with Bice leading by about 11,000 votes with more than 98 percent of precincts reporting.
“Oklahomans want a Congresswoman who will stand up for our values, get our economy booming again, and work with our oil and gas industry, and that is just what I’ll do for them in Congress,” Bice said in a statement. “It’s been a long 18 months, campaigning through a pandemic and an ice storm, but my team and I worked hard to win this race, and I’ll continue that hard work to represent all Oklahomans in Congressional District 5.”
Bice won on the strength of a massive 30,000 vote lead in Election Day voting which was more than enough to offset Horn’s 24,000 vote lead among those who voted prior to Election Day.
The race was nasty, with national GOP groups and Bice tying Horn to Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and portraying the first-term incumbent as an enemy of the state’s oil and gas industry.
Horn and groups supporting her attempted to paint Bice as an enemy of the Oklahoma education system, despite the Republican’s vote to increase taxes and fund a historic teacher pay raise.
Bice survived an equally bitter runoff with Terry Neese in August to win the Republican nomination.
CD 5 a target
Horn delivered her concession speech around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“While tonight’s results aren’t what we want them to be, we have to remember that the fight is not over,” Horn said. “We have to remember that this seat does not belong to a party. It belongs to the people of Oklahoma. It belongs to us, and the only way that we change things is to keep going. When we
CD 5 became one of the few viable U.S. House targets for the national GOP during this election. Democrats are expected to pick up as many as 10 seats by some estimates when all the votes are counted, but Horn was always an inviting target for Republicans in a blood-red state in a presidential election year.
The Cook Political report ranked CD 5 among its most competitive House races nationally, which made it all the more heated and expensive.
Before election night, polls predicted that it would be a nail-biter. The final survey taken from Oct. 26-Nov. 1 found the race tied at 47 percent. A Sooner Poll in mid October gave Horn a 2 percentage point lead. Another October poll gave Bice a 4 percent lead.
An avalanche of cash
It would be nearly impossible to have missed a television ad related to the CD 5 race during any Oklahoma or Oklahoma State football game, or any local newscast over the past six weeks.
Mountains of money poured in for both candidates from their own fundraising operations and outside groups. During the cycle, Horn raised $5.4 million while Bice racked up $3 million.
Millions more came in from outside groups. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spent $2.9 million on behalf of Horn, while the Republican groups Citizens for Free Enterprise and Congressional Leadership Fund donated a combined $1 million for Bice. All told, more than $16 million was spent from outside groups on the race.