To say that Kendra Horn has Republicans’ attention is putting it lightly. Look no further than the growing roster of candidates who wish to make Horn a one-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Horn, D-Oklahoma City, pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 election season when she defeated two-term incumbent 5th District Rep. Steve Russell for the seat that comprises all of Pottawatomie and Seminole counties and much of Oklahoma County.
The national Republican Party has made trying to regain the 5th District one of its priorities for next year, and believes it has a good chance — Horn is one of roughly 30 Democrats representing districts won by President Trump in 2016 (Trump won the 5th District by 11 points).
At least eight Republicans have filed the paperwork to run for the post or have said they plan to run. The list of candidates grew by two last week when businessman David K. Hill and former state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi said they were in. The other highest-profile candidates, businesswoman Terry Neese and state Sen. Stephanie Bice, declared their candidacies months ago.
The entrance of Barresi is interesting in part because the last time she ran for elective office, seeking a second term as state superintendent in 2014, she finished third in the Republican primary. In announcing her candidacy for the 5th District GOP nomination, she noted that she had taken on the “liberal establishment” once before.
That theme is shared by the other top candidates — highlighting the progressive agenda in the Nancy Pelosi-led House.
Most recently, Hill, who formerly ran the oil field equipment company Kimray, said Pelosi and others “want socialized medicine, open borders, higher taxes, bigger government and a complete elimination of our First and Second Amendment rights.” Barresi is vowing to “defend our Second Amendment rights,” strengthen the border and defend the unborn.
Neese and Bice have regularly criticized Horn’s voting record, which includes aligning with fellow House Democrats to end new oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge coastal plain, and backing an election reform bill that would curb free speech and impose undue burdens on states like Oklahoma. Horn backed Pelosi as speaker.
However, Horn also has voted with Republicans at times, including on a bill that would make the U.S. banking system available to marijuana-related businesses in the states that have legalized marijuana use. She has urged caution on “red flag” laws tied to gun possession, and says a House probe into a whistleblower complaint against Trump could have been conducted without an impeachment inquiry.
Horn’s victory last year reflected Oklahoma City’s shift from red to purple, and showed her willingness to work. She compiled a good team, pressed a lot of flesh and raised plenty of money. Horn even outraised Russell, whose slow-building campaign left him playing catchup.
There’s nothing slow-building about this race. Republicans are coming hard after Horn, setting up what is sure to be a bare-knuckled, must-watch election in 2020.