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Thursday February 2nd, 2023 5:26AM

Mullin wins US Senate GOP runoff in deep-red Oklahoma

By The Associated Press
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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin won Tuesday’s GOP primary runoff for one of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate seats, making him a likely favorite to win the seat U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is leaving early after nearly 30 years in office.

Mullin, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, defeated former Speaker of the Oklahoma House and banking executive T.W. Shannon after the two advanced from a 13-candidate Republican primary field in June. Because Inhofe is retiring early, Mullin will serve the remaining four years left on Inhofe’s term.

“Thank you for giving our family this opportunity," Mullin, 45, said at a watch party in Tulsa, surrounded by his wife and six children. “It's not just me you're electing. It's a family affair."

Mullin, who topped the primary field with nearly 44% of the vote, earned former President Donald Trump's endorsement shortly after the primary.

Mullin and Shannon were both seeking to replace Inhofe, a fixture in Republican politics in Oklahoma since the 1960s who has held the U.S. Senate seat since being elected in 1994.

Mullin will be heavily favored in November's general election against former Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, along with an independent and a Libertarian. Oklahoma hasn't elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in more than 30 years.

In a state where nearly 10% of the population identifies as American Indian, both Mullin and Shannon are members of Native American tribes — Mullin a Cherokee citizen and Shannon, who is also African American, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation.

“I never knew I was special for being Cherokee until I went to Washington, D.C.," Mullin told reporters during a campaign stop Tuesday in Norman, “because where I'm from everybody's Indian or wants to be, right?"

If elected in November, Mullin will be the first enrolled Native American tribal member in the U.S. Senate since former Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell left the Senate in 2005, according to U.S. Senate records.

Campaign finance reports show that Mullin raised about $3.6 million, which is nearly three times the $1.3 million that Shannon reported he raised.

In campaign ads and on the stump, both men touted their positions on hot-button issues and vowed to fight President Joe Biden's policy agenda. Shannon launched an anti-abortion ad in which he labeled Planned Parenthood the “true face of white supremacy,” while Mullin in an ad featuring two of his own children and a montage of transgender collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas, said: “Democrats can’t even tell us what a woman is.”

Also on Tuesday, in the Democratic primary runoff for Oklahoma's other U.S. Senate seat, cybersecurity expert Madison Horn defeated Jason Bollinger, an Oklahoma City attorney. Horn, who is not related to Kendra Horn, will face incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford, who will be the heavy favorite in November, along with a Republican and an independent.

In the race for Mullin's open U.S. House seat in eastern Oklahoma, Republican Josh Brecheen, a former state senator from Coalgate, defeated state Rep. Avery Frix, of Muskogee, in the GOP runoff after the two emerged as the top two candidates in June's 14-candidate primary. Brecheen will face Democrat Naomi Andrews, of Tulsa, and independent Ben Robinson, of Muskogee, in November.

Also on the ballot Tuesday were Republican primary runoffs for several statewide offices, including state superintendent of public instruction, state treasurer, labor commissioner and corporation commissioner.

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