OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Republican U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, would become the first Native American in the U.S. Senate in nearly 20 years if he's elected Tuesday.
In an unusual twist this election cycle, both of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate seats will be on the ballot. U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe shook up the state's political scene by announcing this year that he planned to step down before his term was finished.
In the race for Inhofe’s seat, Mullin, 45, faces former Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, 46, an Oklahoma City attorney who in 2018 ousted a two-term GOP incumbent 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 than winning a statewide race in Oklahoma, where registered Republicans now make up more than 50% of registered voters, compared to less than 30% for Democrats. Most polls show Mullin winning comfortably over Horn, Libertarian Robert Murphy and independent Ray Woods.
If elected, Mullin would be the first Native American in the U.S. Senate since former Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado left the Senate in 2005, according to U.S. Senate records.
In Oklahoma's other U.S. Senate race, incumbent Republican James Lankford, 54, is facing a challenge from political newcomer Madison Horn, 32, a cybersecurity industry professional who is not related to Kendra Horn, along with Libertarian Kenneth Blevins and independent Michael Delaney.
Lankford, who has faced some criticism for seeking to delay certification of President Joe Biden's election victory in 2020, faced a feisty primary challenge from a Tulsa pastor who criticized Lankford for not fully embracing the falsehood that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
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Republicans in Oklahoma are heavily favored to retain all five of the state’s U.S. House seats on Election Day, but the GOP expects to welcome a new face to the delegation after U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe's plan to retire shook up the political scene. Only one of the five districts — the sprawling 2nd Congressional District in eastern Oklahoma — is an open seat, with five-term GOP incumbent Rep. Markwayne Mullin vacating the post in a bid to replace Inhofe in the Senate.
Democrat Kendra Horn, who flipped a House seat in 2018, runs a long-shot campaign against Trump-endorsed Markwayne Mullin in ruby-red Oklahoma.
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Republican incumbent James Lankford is vying for a second term against Democrat Madison Horn, a Cherokee Nation tribal citizen.
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Polls close in the state at 7 p.m. local time. Given the state has multiple timezones, the first polls close at 7 p.m. EST and the last polls close at 8 p.m. EST.
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