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Democrats Score Oklahoma Upset Despite Deep-Red Struggles

Kendra Horn pulled off a surprise victory in Oklahoma City-anchored district

Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., lost to Democrat Kendra Horn on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Steve Russell, R-Okla., lost to Democrat Kendra Horn on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As Democrats struggled in deep red districts Tuesday night, Kendra Horn pulled off a surprise upset in Oklahoma. She defeated Republican Rep. Steve Russell in the 5th District, which includes Oklahoma City.

President Donald Trump won Russell’s district by nearly 14 points in 2016, and the race wasn’t considered a potential Democratic pickup. Russell, who was first elected in 2014, did not communicate to the National Republican Congressional Committee that he was in any trouble, according to a source with knowledge of the conversations.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Horn defeated Russell 51 percent to 49 percent, according to The Associated Press.

Horn has experience in nonprofits and the aerospace industry, according to KFOR.  She raised more than $1 million over the election cycle, compared to Russell’s $850,000, per Federal Election Commission documents.

“It’s a phenomenal candidate with an electorate that is very tuned in to what’s going on with their government,” Horn campaign manager Ward Curtin said in a brief phone interview. “They saw the teacher walkout. They’ve seen what’s going on with corporations versus people when it comes to tax structure and government services and saw that they were getting the short shift.”

Horn was endorsed by End Citizens United, which backs candidates who support overhauling campaign finance laws, and EMILY’s List, which backs Democratic women who support abortion rights. Curtin noted that the district had been shifting to the left, pointing to some recent Democratic success in flipping legislative seats.

“I think tonight’s win is a testament to the fact that national organizations and donors should invest in quality candidates in places they may be unfamiliar with,” Curtin said.

Watch: ‘Pretty Stoked to be Voting’— Voters Around the Beltway Share Their Election-Day Thoughts

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