Oklahoma’s five congressional seats are all up for grabs but within much easier reach for Republicans in the Nov. 8 general election.
Four seats are held by GOP incumbents with huge financial and political advantages. The open spot, for the 2nd Congressional District, has been overwhelmingly Republican since former U.S. House Rep. Dan Boren retired from politics 10 years ago.
Redistricting has ensured CD 5, where Democrat Kendra Horn prevailed in 2018, is once again a safe GOP seat. And while the 3rd District was twisted into a pretzel to do it, CD 3 incumbent Frank Lucas’ record of lopsided re-elections through 14 terms appears to be safe.
So, too, does 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern, whose constituency became marginally less Republican after CD 2 was redrawn to add 70,000 people. Hern’s Democratic opponent, Adam Martin, is a 27-year-old newcomer without much money or name recognition.
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Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole, on the other hand, is opposed by 70-year-old Democrat Mary Brannon, a retired teacher who lost to Cole by wide margins in 2018 and 2020.
Redistricting is based on population, which means that while the five congressional districts have almost exactly the same number of people, they do not have the same number of registered voters.
Voter registration through the end of September ranged from less than 410,000 in CD 3 to more than 490,000 in CD 5.
CD 1, which had the most voters after the 2020 election, now has the second fewest at 452,000 — down 22,000 from January 2021.
Here’s a quick look at the congressional races:
It’s been a low-key campaign, with the well-heeled Hern doing little to attract attention and Martin lacking the resources to do so.
Hern, 61, continues to rise in the House Republican hierarchy and could move up further if the GOP wins a majority in the Nov. 8 elections.
A member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Hern’s primary interests have been tax policy and small business. Hern is considered one of the wealthiest members of Congress, and his active stock trading has attracted a good deal of criticism.
Martin has a compelling story. He grew up poor in Wagoner, lived in his car for a while as a student at Oklahoma State University, and still managed to earn a degree in history. He now works as a manager for a roofing company.
CD 1 has centered on Tulsa County since early statehood and does so even more in its newest configuration. The district lost the eastern part of Wagoner County and all of Washington County to CD 2 while gaining eastern-most Creek County, including Sapulpa, from CD 3.
The voter registration mix, though, did not change much. The share of Republicans and Democrats each dropped about a percentage point — from 51.6% to 50.6% and from 30.8% to 29.6% respectively — while independents gained about 2 percentage points and are now approaching 20%.
Libertarians also made gains but are still less than 1%.
CD 2 had to gain about 70,000 people in the redistricting process, and the Republican-controlled Legislature took them all out of the former 1st District.
The result is that CD 2, once the state’s most Democratic district by registration if not by voting patterns, is now the second-most Republican district and still has the highest percentage of Democrats.
Former state Sen. Josh Brecheen, survivor of the 14-way GOP primary, is a heavy favorite to succeed Markwayne Mullin. Brecheen was a Tom Coburn staffer and, if anything, comes across as even more conservative than the late senator. He’s gotten some help from the House Freedom Congress and from a Pennsylvania billionaire with an interest in school vouchers and not paying taxes.
Brecheen, 43, is opposed by Democrat Naomi Andrews, 39, and independent Ben Robinson, 88.
Andrews has worked in business development, communications, marketing and sales. She lives in south Tulsa, which is not in the district, but says she filed when she could not find anyone else to carry the blue banner.
Robinson is something of a Muskogee institution, a former Democratic state senator who later was on Boren’s staff.
Lucas, 62, opposed by Bristow Democrat Jeremiah Ross, would become the longest-serving member of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation if he wins a 15th term.
Ross, 39, is an attorney and former oilfield worker whose previous brush with politics was a loss in a 2018 legislative primary.
Lucas is a former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and is likely to be the next chairman of the Science Committee if the GOP gains control of the House next session. According to reports, he’s also eyeing a return to Ag as it contemplates a new farm bill.
To keep CD 5 safe for Republicans, the redistricting mapmakers added a swath through the middle of the Oklahoma City metro to CD 3. It’s an area that historically has not participated much in elections, either because many residents were not eligible or because they chose not to.
As a result, CD 3 has about 8% fewer voters than pre-redistricting.
Brannan received 33% of the vote the first time she ran against Cole and less than 30% the second. Nothing suggests a different outcome this time.
CD 4 changed less than any of the five districts and Cole, 73, is set up to again become an appropriations subcommittee chairman if there’s a GOP-led House.
Bice, 48, narrowly defeated Horn in 2020, but redistricting added 42,000 Republicans while shedding almost 17,000 Democrats. Overall, the district gained more than 30,000 voters.
Bice is opposed by Democrat Joshua Harris-Till, 31, a former national president of the Young Democrats and twice an unsuccessful candidate in CD 2, and independent David Frosch, 37.
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