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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 handful of times Bice has split with her party include her support for reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act in March and for workplace accommodations for pregnant women in May.

“We want to keep women in the workplace,” Bice said of the latter vote, noting that she remembers what it was like to be eight months pregnant. (Her children are now in high school and college.) “This is a way to ensure that they’re getting the accommodations that they need.”

Formidable matchup

Broyles is making her second bid for Congress, after losing to Inhofe by 30 points in 2020, though she did outraise him in the last fundraising quarter. Horn, who also has a reputation as a strong fundraiser and a tireless campaigner, has not announced her plans, spurring speculation she is considering another run.

State Democratic leaders predict the 2022 House race will be competitive, regardless of how Republicans redraw the district boundaries.

They note that census results showed Oklahoma City gaining at least 100,000 new residents since 2010, growth they attributed to an influx of young, culturally diverse people, increasing the number of potentially left-leaning voters.

Democrats say it would be difficult for mapmakers to draw in more conservative areas without taking supporters away from Bice’s GOP colleagues around the state.

Republicans don’t buy it.

 

They say Horn’s 2018 victory was an anomaly, buoyed by a national environment favorable to Democrats, an opponent — GOP Rep. Steve Russell — who was caught unprepared, and a last-minute spending boost from a super PAC backed by Michael Bloomberg.

Trump carried the district by 13 points in 2016 and by 5 points in 2020, slightly besting Bice’s 4-point margin over Horn. Nonpartisan analysts say it would be easy to shore up the district for Republicans.

Bice had nearly $700,000 in her campaign account on June 30 and has already shown herself to be a tough opponent in a general and a primary election. In 2020, she beat businesswoman Terry Neese in a primary runoff, even though the anti-tax Club for Growth Action spent nearly $960,000 against her.

“She was outspent by millions of dollars, and everybody and their brother spent considerable resources attacking her,” Savage said. “And then she did it again in the general election while being outspent. She’s a tough hombre. So my message would be this: People need to pack a lunch if they think she’s going to be easy to knock off. … I wouldn’t mess with her if I were them.”

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(Ryan Kelly contributed to this report.)

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