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Oklahoma 5th District hopefuls make case at forum

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 12, 2014 at 12:55 pm •  Published: June 12, 2014

EDMOND, Okla. (AP) — With the primary election less than two weeks away, candidates for Oklahoma's only open seat in the U.S. House worked to build voter support Thursday at a political forum.

Six of the 12 candidates running for the seat currently held by Republican James Lankford outlined their views on the economy, energy policy and other issues at the forum sponsored by the Edmond Chamber of Commerce.

The participants included five Republican candidates — Corporation Commission member Patrice Douglas, former state Rep. Shane Jett, state Sen. Clark Jolley, former state Sen. Steve Russell and the Rev. Harvey Sparks, and a single Democrat — retired university professor Tom Guild.

Lankford is stepping down after two terms to run for the position held by GOP U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who is retiring.

The primary is set for June 24, while runoff elections, if necessary, will be Aug. 26. The winners will meet three independent candidates who are also running for the seat in the Nov. 4 general election.

The candidates stressed their experience in government and their individual professions as they promised to be an effective leader in Congress.

"I know what it means to work across party lines," said Jett, who was elected to the state House as a Republican from a traditionally Democratic area. Jett was a three-term member of the Oklahoma House from 2004 to 2010 who left for an unsuccessful run for Congress.

Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, served in the state Senate from 2008 to 2012 after a more than 20-year Army career that culminated with the U.S. invasion of Iraq. He wrote the book, "We Got Him," about his unit's role in the hunt for and capture of Saddam Hussein.

"Our nation needs leaders who can solve problems," Russell said. "I've led before and I can lead again."

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