OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Two Oklahoma City women, each touting their conservative credentials and support for President Donald Trump, will face off Tuesday in a testy GOP primary runoff for the opportunity to unseat the lone Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation.
Local businesswoman Terry Neese, 73, and state Sen. Stephanie Bice, 47, are locked in a bitter contest for the nomination after neither secured more than 50% of the vote in a nine-way June primary. Neese led the field with 36% of the vote to Bice’s 25%.
Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The two women are vying to replace first-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, 44, who pulled one of the biggest congressional upsets in the country in 2018 when she toppled a Republican incumbent in a district President Trump won by 14 points in 2016. The district had been in Republican hands for four decades.
Republicans have a slight edge in voter registration in the district, but an infusion of younger people in recent years could give Horn a boost in November.
Horn also has proven to be an effective fundraiser, amassing more than $3.6 million, compared to $1.2 million for Neese and $1.4 million for Bice, according to the most recent federal expenditure reports.
While Neese and Bice have spent money attacking one another in the primary runoff, Horn is running ads that highlight her willingness to work with Republicans and find bipartisan consensus.
Neese has made her admiration for Trump the center of her campaign, sporting a red “Trump 2020” hat in her ads and vowing to “protect” the president. Bice, who earned a reputation in the state Senate as a hardworking moderate, has touted her support for Trump on the campaign trail.
Bice has been targeted by outside groups for voting for tax increases to fund a teacher pay raise, while Neese, who is not Native American, has faced criticism for claiming Cherokee heritage that helped her land a federal appointment and after the release of audiotapes in which Neese can be heard encouraging her employees to mislead clients.
Among other hotly contested races on the ballot Tuesday is a mayoral race in Tulsa, where incumbent G.T. Bynum is facing off against several challengers, including a young Black community organizer, Greg Robinson, whose last-minute campaign has generated a buzz in the longtime Republican stronghold.
A few state Senate incumbent Republicans also found themselves in primary runoffs, including state Sens. Larry Boggs in District 7, Ron Sharp in District 17 and Paul Scott in District 43.