Trump, Inhofe coast to victory in Oklahoma
Mike Seals - November 4, 2020 6:20 am
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump and Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe both coasted to easy victories Tuesday in deep-red Oklahoma.
Inhofe, 85, a fixture in Oklahoma politics for 50 years, was heavily favored to win his fifth term in office. He defeated Democrat Abby Broyles, 31, an Oklahoma City lawyer and former television reporter, along with a Libertarian and two independents.
Broyles, who was making her first run at political office, 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 were on the ballot Tuesday, with the most competitive race 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 all won re-election on Tuesday.
Voters rejected two state questions on the ballot. State Question 805, designed to help reduce the state’s high incarceration rate, would have prevented prosecutors from using prior nonviolent convictions to enhance sentences for nonviolent crimes. The proposal faced opposition from district attorneys and several law enforcement groups. Another proposal, State Question 814, would have decreased from 75% to 25% the amount of tobacco company settlement money the state uses for programs to reduce tobacco use. The Legislature wanted to use the funds to help fund a Medicaid expansion approved by voters earlier this year.
Republicans extended their majority in the Oklahoma House, picking up five seats to grow their majority from 77 to 82 members in the 101-member House. Republicans maintained their 39-9 advantage in the state Senate.
Oklahoma County elected its first-ever Black sheriff. Republican Tommie Johnson III, a Norman police officer, defeated Democrat Wayland Cubit, a lieutenant with the Oklahoma City Police Department, according to unofficial results. Johnson ousted incumbent Republican P.D. Taylor in the primary.
Polls closed at 7 p.m. across the state, and election officials said there were reports of heavy turnout at polling stations across the state. The number of people who voted early by mail was more than double what it was in the last general election.