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Stephanie Bice's path reveals opportunities, perils for suburban Republicans

Stephanie Akin, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

“The day is coming soon when House Republicans are going to have to show that they can lead,” said Cam Savage, a GOP strategist who served as a consultant for Bice’s 2020 campaign. “It’s one thing to be in the minority and just go vote ‘no’ all the time. It is a different thing to have to run a dozen or so important committees, to appropriate, to pass legislation through committees, through the floor, to negotiate with the Senate to get things done.”

Staying above the fray?

With autumn here, the pressure on Bice from within her party appears to be lifting. Oklahoma GOP leaders have said nothing about her since party Chairman John Bennett posted a rebuke on Facebook in May following her Jan. 6 commission vote. Bennett’s post is now blocked from public view, and he did not respond to a request for an interview.

Bice, who voted in January to oppose certification of the presidential result in Arizona, has repeatedly given the same explanation for her stance on both the 2020 presidential election and the Capitol riot, positions she reiterated in an interview with CQ Roll Call.

She said she wanted to make a statement about the integrity of state lawmakers’ control over how elections are administered, noting a 2020 state Supreme Court ruling that allowed voters to cast absentee ballots without getting them notarized.

Voting rights advocates said the measure would protect voters during the coronavirus pandemic, but state Republican lawmakers called the decision judicial overreach and rushed a party-line bill through the Legislature restoring the requirement.

 

“Oklahoma could have become a statistic like other states that had their election laws changed by judicial or executive decree,” Bice said. “For me, that was something that was very troubling.”

She has not repeated Trump’s claims that the election was fraudulent — putting her at odds with a wave of GOP lawmakers and candidates who have staked their 2022 campaigns on casting doubts about the legitimacy of Biden’s presidency.

Bice initially waved away a question about whether Biden won the election, saying, “That’s a nonissue for me at this point.” When pressed, she added: “Based on what we have seen, he did. He’s the president.”

‘Political theater’

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