Fifth District Election: Kendra Horn and backers advance mainstream themes, challenger Stephanie Bice wants incumbent to back paycheck protection effort

Oklahoma City – One year ago this month, in a story for The Oklahoman, reporter Ben Felder  pointed to U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn’s efforts “to defend [the] suburban map” in her reelection campaign. This hinted at Horn’s strength in the urban core, while noting her efforts to garner broader support. 
In August 2019, Amber Phillips, writing for The Washington Post, predicted the Fifth Congressional District race would almost certainly be one of the top 10 U.S. House races of 2020. 

A lot of things have changed in the last year, but it’s safe to say both news stories were largely on-target. Horn easily prevailed in her June 30 primary race, while Republicans chose a two-term state legislator in hopes of returning the seat to the GOP column.  

Last week, state Senator Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, called on incumbent Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn to join an effort in Congress to force Nancy Pelosi to bring legislation to the floor to immediately utilize $134 billion in Paycheck Protection Program funds that remain unused.

In a press release sent to The City Sentinel and other news organizations, Bice called on “Rep. Horn to put aside partisanship and put Oklahomans and Americans back to work. Nancy Pelosi has refused to allow a vote on any legislation that would give small businesses access to the loans that have helped keep our economy afloat, but Kendra Horn can help put an end to the political gamesmanship and she should.”

Bice’s campaign pointed to legislation from Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler, R-Washington), that would compel the Speaker of the House “to bring legislation to the floor to extend the Paycheck Protection Program. Herrera Beutler’s procedure, known as a discharge petition, calls for a vote on legislation that would distribute funds intended for use as part of the Paycheck Protection Program, but that were not distributed by the August 8 program deadline.”

Bice said, “These forgivable loans helped keep thousands of Oklahomans employed, but some businesses continue to face challenges and others were not approved for loans by the deadline. Kendra Horn should put the American people ahead of her political alliance with Nancy Pelosi and join the effort to bring this legislation to the floor immediately.”

Bice has been active in the U.S. mail, text messaging and emailed communications, to be sure, but the incumbent is putting communications into the hands of likely and possible voters at least once a day, and often more frequently.

The Oklahoma Democratic Party has sent a few colorful email flyers since Bice won the Republican nod on August 25. One four-fold  touted “hundreds of meetings and dozens of town halls” Rep. Horn has held since her 2018 election, asserting she is accessible to constituents. State Democrats also financed at least mailers aiming at households with Republican voters and featuring a city-area mayor asserting Horn has tackled ‘the debt and wasteful spending” in order to protect retiree programs. 

Center Forward, in an independent expenditure, had a recent mailer looking back at the initial round of national tax-financed programs to assist businesses, saying Horn “fought to ensure small businesses had access to emergency PPP loans so their employees could stay on payroll.” Another mailer from the New Jersey group said Horn “stepped up with Republicans and Democrats alike” to back legislation helping businesses to pay employees. That mailer encouraged recipients to “thank Kendra Horn and ask her to keep fighting for the CARES Act.” 

In recent weeks, a leading national liberal group known as End Citizens United has been sending mailers to call explicitly for support of the incumbent. End Citizens United wants seeks U.S. Supreme Court reversal of a decision that allowed the proliferation of independent expenditures in candidate races. 

Apparently aiming to offset some of that activity, the Congressional Leadership Fund has declared, in a mailer, that “Two-Faced Kendra Horn needs to look at herself in the mirror” – saying Horn “is telling us one thing .. but her actions reflect a failed liberal agenda.” 

The City Sentinel newspaper supported each woman in her respective party primary.

The runoff endorsement for the eventual Republican nominee asserted: “State Sen. Stephanie Bice, an experienced public servant with a solid conservative record, is the candidate best positioned to make the case for a change. Senator Bice is pro-life, a defender of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, an energetic campaigner and a proven candidate.” 
The newspaper’s appeal to Republican readers was explicit, saying the key question Republicans should answer – concerning the two conservative women then competing – was “Can she win in November?”  

In the Democratic primary, the newspaper reflected, “Since taking the oath, [Kendra Horn] has developed into a serious member of Congress. Her work with other members of the Oklahoma delegation (all Republicans) have been notable. She has a serious and substantive style and a record on which to stand before voters in November, to say: ‘I’d like another two years.’ 
“Republicans will have to work hard and smart if they want to deny her that second term. She voted to impeach President Trump, which endeared her to the Democratic base but infuriated many Republicans. To be scrupulously fair, she approached that serious vote with a professional demeanor and respect for those who disagreed. In this day and age, that is notable in and of itself.” 

Each candidate has begun to inundate television with their messaging. 

In early voting and on Election Day itself (November 3), voters in central Oklahoma will make the call. 

UPDATE: and other news organizations reported that after weeks of stalled negotiations, Speaker Pelosi and U.S. Treasurer Steven Mnuchin have begun new discussions overs a new stimulus package. Under consideration is a new round of PPP revenue.