Presidential, US Senate contests top Oklahoma ballot
Mike Seals - November 3, 2020 10:19 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump will look Tuesday for a repeat of his performance in 2016 in Oklahoma when he won each of the state’s 77 counties en route to a 36 percentage-point victory over Hillary Clinton.
Also atop the ballot this year in Oklahoma is 85-year-old Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, who is heavily favored to win his fifth term in office. Inhofe, a fixture in Oklahoma politics for 50 years, will face Democrat Abby Broyles, an Oklahoma City lawyer and former television reporter, along with a Libertarian and two independents.
Broyles, 31, who is making her first run for political office, has painted Inhofe as an out-of-touch Washington insider who is no longer up to the job.
Inhofe amassed a campaign fund of about $5.6 million, including about $1.5 million from political action committees, but Broyles also proved to be an effective fundraiser, totaling more than $1.8 million in contributions, according to the latest federal campaign reports. She got little help from outside groups who calculated a Democrat couldn’t win statewide in Oklahoma.
A Democrat hasn’t held a U.S. Senate seat in the Sooner State since David Boren stepped down in 1994 to become president of the University of Oklahoma.
Broyles repeatedly lambasted Inhofe for failing to debate her, even crashing the set of an Inhofe political ad shoot in Tulsa to make her point, but Inhofe said he didn’t see the need for it. He never debated his Democratic opponent in 2014 and still won the race with 68% of the vote.
“First of all, everyone knows where I am on every conceivable issue. I have four opponents and I don’t know where any one of them is on any issue,” Inhofe said.
While Broyles’ campaign ads mostly attacked Inhofe, she describes herself as a “moderate Democrat” willing to break with her party, particularly on issues such as oil and gas production, a critical part of Oklahoma’s economy.
Oklahoma’s five incumbent members of Congress are on the ballot Tuesday, with the most competitive race expected to be the contest for the district that includes Oklahoma City. In that race, U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, the lone Democrat in the delegation, faces Republican state Sen. Stephanie Bice. Horn pulled off one of the nation’s biggest political upsets in 2018 when she knocked off a two-term GOP incumbent and won a seat that had been in GOP hands for four decades. Republican U.S. Reps. Kevin Hern, Markwayne Mullin, Frank Lucas and Tom Cole are all heavy favorites.
Voters will decide two state questions on Tuesday. State Question 805, designed to help reduce the state’s high incarceration rate, would prevent prosecutors from using prior nonviolent convictions to enhance sentences for nonviolent crimes. The proposal has faced opposition from district attorneys and some law enforcement groups. Another proposal, State Question 814, would decrease from 75% to 25% the amount of tobacco company settlement money the state uses for programs to reduce tobacco use. If approved, 75% of the funds would go to a fund to help the Legislature pay for Medicaid.
HEADING TO THE POLLS
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. across the state, and election officials say they’re optimistic turnout will be up this year. The number of people who voted early by mail was more than double what it was in the last presidential election.