OKLAHOMA CITY — Republicans U.S. Senator James Lankford and U.S. Representative Markwayne Mullin both claimed election victory on Tuesday, with Mullin set to become the first Native American in the U.S. Senate in nearly 20 years.
In an unusual twist to this election cycle, Oklahoma’s two U.S. Senate seats were on the ballot. US Senator Jim Inhofe rocked state politics when he announced this year that he planned to step down before the end of his term.
In the race for the Inhofe seat, Mullin, 45, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, took on former Democratic U.S. Representative Kendra Horn, 46, an Oklahoma City attorney who in 2018 ousted a GOP incumbent two terms from a seat that had been in Republican hands for four decades.
But winning a congressional seat in an increasingly diverse and progressive city is different from winning a statewide race in Oklahoma, where Republicans now make up more than 50% of registered voters, compared to fewer. 30% for the Democrats. Most polls showed Mullin comfortably ahead of Horn, libertarian Robert Murphy and independent Ray Woods.
“Kendra Horn had the opportunity to do something for our state, and she didn’t,” said Jessica Perez, 46, of Oklahoma City, who voted for Mullin Tuesday at Oklahoma Christian University.
Mullin will become the first Native American in the U.S. Senate since former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado left the Senate in 2005, according to U.S. Senate records.
In Oklahoma’s other U.S. Senate race, Republican incumbent Lankford, 54, fended off a challenge from political newcomer Madison Horn, 32, an unrelated cybersecurity industry professional to Kendra Horn, as well as libertarian Kenneth Blevins and independent Michael Delaney.
Lankford, who has received criticism for seeking to delay certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory, faced a fiery primary challenge from a Tulsa pastor who criticized Lankford for failing to fully accepted the lie that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
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