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Oklahoma elections: Russell easily wins GOP nod in 5th District congressional race, will face McAffrey in general election

Steve Russell, a retired U.S. Army officer who stressed his military experience, defeated Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas and will face Democrat Al McAffrey in the race to succeed Rep. James Lankford in Congress.
by Nolan Clay and Chris Casteel and Darla Slipke Modified: August 26, 2014 at 11:24 pm •  Published: August 26, 2014

photo - 
Steve Russell speaks to a crowd Tuesday after winning the Republican primary runoff election for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District in Oklahoma City. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Steve Russell speaks to a crowd Tuesday after winning the Republican primary runoff election for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District in Oklahoma City. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman BRYAN TERRY - THE OKLAHOMAN

U.S. Army veteran Steve Russell claimed the Republican nomination on Tuesday in the congressional district that includes most of Oklahoma County, easily defeating state Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas in the runoff primary.

With all of 273 precincts counted, Russell captured 59 percent of the vote. He will face Democratic state Sen. Al McAffrey in the Nov. 4 general election to succeed U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, in the 5th District.

McAffrey, of Oklahoma City, defeated retired college professor Tom Guild, who was making his third consecutive run for the seat. McAffrey won 54 percent of the vote.

The 5th District — which includes most of Oklahoma County, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties — is considered safe for Republicans.

Russell, 51, had the backing of state and national groups aligned with the tea party, while Douglas attracted support from much of the Oklahoma City business establishment, including executives of energy companies and utilities regulated by the Corporation Commission.

“I am humbled to be your choice,” Russell told supporters at his watch party, saying he had been outspent by Douglas but not “outmaneuvered.”

In a speech that touched on gun rights, freedom of religion, immigration and the right to privacy, Russell got the loudest applause when he said he’d defend the unborn “without apology.”

“Life begins at conception. The unborn deserve to live and have a voice,” he said.

Russell overcame the fact that he doesn’t live in the 5th District, but in a south Oklahoma City neighborhood that’s actually in Cleveland County and the 4th District.

The U.S. Constitution requires residency in the state but not the district represented.

The retired lieutenant colonel, who also served one term in the Oklahoma Senate, campaigned heavily on his military experience — his unit assisted in the capture of Saddam Hussein — and he was endorsed by freshman U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, a retired U.S. Navy pilot who also had tea party support.

“I am a fighter,” Russell said at the watch party.

“I have experience making tough decisions where the stakes were not someone’s inconvenience but someone’s life. I know how to lead and I will not waiver.”

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by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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by Darla Slipke
Breaking News Reporter
Darla Slipke is a breaking news reporter for The Oklahoman. She is a native of Bristol, Conn., and a graduate of the University of Kansas. Slipke worked for newspapers in Kansas, Connecticut, North Carolina and Oklahoma, including a previous...
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