OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Democrat Kendra Horn rode a blue wave of support Tuesday to upset Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Russell in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District.
The vote makes Horn the first Democrat in more than 40 years to win the district, which includes most of Oklahoma City, and it’s the first time the conservative state has been represented by a Democrat in Congress since 2013.
Horn, 42, is an attorney and mediator who ran two nonprofits and formerly served as press secretary to Democratic former U.S. Rep. Brad Carson.
Although Republicans still outnumber Democrats in the district, Democrats have won several special elections in state legislative seats inside the district in recent years, and Horn said her campaign benefited from an enthusiastic group of volunteers.
“There’s an energy, and we’ve activated a lot of voters,” Horn said. “We’ve really got a great group of young people, but we have volunteers of all ages who are out there talking to their friends and neighbors about the things that are really important.”
Horn also managed to outraise Russell, amassing more than $1 million compared to Russell’s $850,000, according to the latest reports from the Federal Election Commission.
Horn criticized Russell for voting against a requirement that insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions, and also emphasized her support for public education, an issue important in Oklahoma following a teacher walkout in the spring over funding for schools.
Russell, a retired Army officer and former state senator, was seeking a third term in office. During a debate with Horn and in television ads, he touted his military background, including his service in Iraq.
In other congressional races, Republican Kevin Hern defeated Democrat Tim Gilpin to keep the U.S. House seat in the Tulsa area in Republican hands.
Incumbent GOP Reps. Tom Cole, Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin each handily won re-election.
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For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics