The election to fill the 5th Congressional District seat that opened when James Lankford decided to run for U.S. Senate is going to a run-off on both the Democratic and Republican sides.
There were six Republicans vying for their party’s nomination Tuesday. Now there are two: Former State Senator Steve Russell and outgoing Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas face a runoff August 26th. Douglas — like the rest of the candidates — didn’t have a lot of time to mount her campaign after U.S. Senator Tom Coburn’s early retirement led Lankford to vacate the 5th District job, but she says she’s ready for a two person clash.
“You run faster,” Douglas says. “And it’s actually — your field has narrowed and so you know who your opponent is and you know what you have to do to win. And the good news for us is that we have great grassroots.”
Whichever Republican wins will be the favorite in November’s general election.
One of the other statewide votes last night was for an open spot on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the powerful three-person board that regulates utilities and the oil and gas industry. There weren’t any Democrats or Independents in the race, so the winner of the Republican primary, Todd Hiett, gets the job.
Hiett’s four point victory comes at the end of a campaign that got pretty heated toward the end, with Hiett accusing his opponent, term-limited State Senator Cliff Branan, of being too close to environmental groups, and Branan accusing Hiett of growing government as House speaker. But Branan was conciliatory in defeat.
“It’s in the past, you know?” Branan said. “It was the heat of the battle. And all of that is in the past. And it’s time to move on.”
During the campaign, both candidates railed against what they call federal overreach and staunchly supported the state’s oil and gas industry.