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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