Oklahoma Elections: Calvey, Lankford in Republican run-off for 5 District seat

Billy Coyle wins Democratic nomination and says his party is hungry for leadership
By Chris Casteel Modified: July 28, 2010 at 12:53 am •  Published: July 28, 2010

WASHINGTON _ Republicans James Lankford and Kevin Calvey headed for an Aug. 24 runoff in the hotly contested race for Oklahoma City's congressional seat, while Billy Coyle won the Democratic nomination in Tuesday's primary contest.

Lankford, a church camp director with no political experience, led the seven-man Republican field in the 5th District race, edging Calvey in complete but unofficial returns.

Lankford said he owed his place in the runoff to supporters who were also new to politics.

"It may sound trite, but it's people,'' Lankford said about his out-of-nowhere success. "We don't have a political machine. We had people who were never involved in anything political before and now they're involved... and they're passionate about it."

Lankford, of Oklahoma City, said the campaign "starts all over again now" and that he looked forward to contrasting his views with Calvey alone, rather than with six other candidates.

Calvey, an Oklahoma City attorney, said he felt blessed to make the runoff and was looking forward to the next four weeks.

Though he had a political base and financial help from the Washington-based Club for Growth, Calvey sought to portray himself Tuesday as an underdog with no network of support fighting against candidates with built-in advantages.

"I think we beat the odds,'' Calvey said, with a "conservative, patriotic message."

"I look forward to a respectful campaign over the next four weeks and I feel like we will be in a great position to prevail."

With all 340 precincts reporting, Lankford had 18,755 votes, or 34 percent, while Calvey had 18,143 votes, or 32 percent. State Rep. Mike Thompson finished third with 18 percent.

With 314 of 340 precincts reporting, Coyle had 21,139 votes, or 57 percent, while professor Tom Guild, of Edmond, had 16,059, or 43 percent.

Coyle said he worked long days to win the nomination and he credited Guild for his efforts.

"I think Democrats are hungry for leadership,'' Coyle said. "They want their party back. And I represent that."

The 5{+t}{+h} District congressional race held the only real suspense of the federal contests on Tuesday's primary ballots. The seat became open for the second time in four years after U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, decided to run for governor.

Thompson, of Oklahoma City, raised more than $900,000 and had the backing of some of the city's top business leaders, but he failed to catch fire with a campaign that stressed his experience in the state Legislature.

Lankford went from a complete unknown to the most-hyped candidate in the race with an energetic effort to use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter to build a network of voters out of his network of church camp friends.

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