Four candidates fill spots on the ballot for the Nov. 8 special election to replace the incumbent U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R), affecting the partisan balance of the U.S Senate.
Inhofe announced his plan on Jan. 14, 2022, to resign on Jan. 3, 2023, to spend time with family. This year, 35 of 100 U.S. Senate seats are up for election, including this special election. Currently, the Democratic Party has the effective majority in the Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. Of the seats up for election, Democrats hold 14 and Republicans hold 21.
In Oklahoma’s special election, Kendra Horn (D), Markwayne Mullin (R), Ray Woods (I) and Robert Murphy (L) hope to replace Inhofe.
Kendra Horn (D)
Horn is a fifth-generation Oklahoman who grew up in Chickasha, according to her campaign website. She said one thing she learned from her parents growing up was the importance of being an active participant in the community to “stand up for what’s right,” something she plans to do as a U.S Senator.
“We need people serving in an elected office that not only care, but that value all Oklahomans, that understand we need to make sure that the laws apply and protect us equally, and who have integrity and are prioritizing their service over themselves,” Horn said.
Horn’s campaign focuses on common-sense gun control reform that still protects the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. She also supports abortion rights and is against the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
In 2018, Horn was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, upsetting Republican opponent Steve Russell, and became the first Democrat to take Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District in over 40 years. She was also the first woman of the state’s party to do so.
Horn said, throughout her time in congress, she helped sign 25 bills into law and assisted thousands of Oklahomans including veterans, businesses and seniors with the support they need against federal entities.
“We have seen it over and over again that when Oklahomans show up, when they’re thinking about issues, and when we give people the space to step out of the idea of either one party or the other, we can do a lot of really good things to make a difference,” Horn said. “That’s what I did when I was in Congress. I served Oklahomans. I showed up. I was accessible.”
Throughout her career as a member of Congress, Horn built relationships by working with people on both sides of the aisle, she said. She served on the House Armed Services Committee where she worked with those from other parties, including Inhofe, to take care of military housing and bases in Oklahoma, among other issues.
Horn said what sets her apart from her opponent, Mullin, is her willingness to show up and put in work for the people of Oklahoma.
“The difference between the two of us is not just party,” Horn said. “I have worked with him, and I will work with anyone when it’s good for Oklahoma. I have stood up to people when it’s not, and I will continue to do so. But I work for Oklahomans, (and) he is working for himself.”
Above all, Horn emphasizes the importance for all Oklahomans, especially young citizens, to vote. Voting, she said, is the best way to affect positive change in Oklahoma.
“It’s easy to believe that our voices don’t matter and our votes don’t count when we don’t see a lot of the fruits of those labors and things that we’re concerned about,” Horn said. “But the truth is this: If we don’t show up in elections, we can’t affect change.”
Markwayne Mullin (R)
The OU Daily reached out to Markwayne Mullin via phone and email multiple times over a span of three weeks. Mullin and his office did not respond to any of the OU Daily’s attempts to schedule an interview.
Mullin was first elected to serve in Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District in 2012, according to his website. He is currently serving his fifth term in office and lives with his wife and six children on their ranch in Westville, Oklahoma, which includes the original allotment land his family received as part of the Cherokee Nation.
As one of five Native Americans currently serving in the House, Mullin brings firsthand knowledge of Native American issues to the U.S. Capitol, according to his site.
In his campaign for Senate, Mullin focuses on protecting the Second Amendment, finishing the wall on the U.S. southern border and keeping transgender women out of female athletics. Mullin boasts his lifetime membership in the National Rifle Association and is anti-abortion.
Mullin serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, according to his site, where he sits on the subcommittees for health, environment and climate change, and communications and technology.
Currently, Mullin is supporting legislation to amend the Public Health Service Act, to reauthorize the state offices of rural health programs, a Mask Mandate Prevention and Recovery Act and a Partial Birth Abortion Is Murder Act.
Mullin also leads a bipartisan workout group in Washington, where he brings Republicans and Democrats together in their dislike of burpees.
Ray Woods (I)
As the independent candidate for this election, Woods said he would work toward rebooting the constitution by implementing a new, 28th Amendment to reestablish the fifty sovereign states into a constitutional republic.
Woods wrote in his campaign pamphlet this new amendment would bring retirement funds, education and health care to be brought back to the individual states since it would allow each one to establish a vault for personal exchange digitally or by individuals withdrawing gold or silver.
“We got to get our Constitution back,” Woods said. “How do we do that? … Somebody needs to stand up and introduce a constitutional amendment that can shut Washington down here because the way our Constitution is written, all everything has to flow through the Senate.”
At 87 years old, Woods said he and his wife, Norma Woods, have been all over the nation and world. Woods graduated high school in 1954 and attended OU for a year as an architecture major. He then transferred to Mexico City college in 1956 where he studied psychology before transferring to Phillips University from 1958-59.
Woods also worked at Boeing aircraft, where he helped craft the B-52 aircraft, a bomber airplane in the U.S. inventory. He also served in the Oklahoma Air National Guard from 1953-62. Currently, Woods works in real estate, according to his campaign handout.
Woods previously ran against Inhofe for the U.S. Senate in 2014. What sets him apart from other candidates in this election, Woods said, is his ability to put himself out there and his knowledge due to his world travels.
“I’m a damn fly,” Woods said. “I irritate people real bad. I know that. I turn a lot of people off. … But, at the same time, I’m real knowledgeable.”
Robert Murphy (L)
Murphy said he has been a part of the Libertarian Party for 45 years. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Murphy moved to Oklahoma in 1975. He has spent most of his career working in telephone offices and data centers, including at OU.
He said he first joined the Libertarian Party while living in San Diego in 1974 after hearing about it in an art class.
“The main thrust of the libertarian principle is the nonaggression principle, that no one should be allowed to initiate force against anyone else … and that you can retaliate if somebody initiates force against you, you have the right to self-defense,” Murphy said. “That’s two simple concepts that most people learn in kindergarten. Don’t hurt anyone and keep your word. … That’s what the Libertarian Party is all about.”
Murphy’s Senate campaign focuses on watching “federal encroachment” on Second Amendment issues to make sure Oklahomans retain the right to bear arms, federal restrictions on the energy industry that “increase the price of exploration,” and how federal courts deal with vaccine mandates and “other intrusions into the rights of Oklahomans.”
In order to prevent this, Murphy said he wants to implement laws to increase state individuality and try to repeal laws that are harmful to that.
“Let the states determine what they want to do. … It should be the intention and the purpose of the federal government to protect our rights from foreign criminals, interstate domestic criminals and adjudicate disputes between people in different states,” Murphy said.
Additionally, Murphy said he was interested in discussing issues surrounding drug policies and the recent McGirt v.Oklahoma decision, which he said presents problems with dual sovereignty.
Murphy said what separates him from other candidates is his pacifism and advocacy for economic freedom.
“I’m the only peace candidate in the race. Both the Democrat and the Republican (candidates) have consistently voted for the National Defense Authorization Act,” Murphy said. “I’m the only economic freedom candidate. I want to reform the banking system and the money system so that we have a stable currency.”
The general election is on Tuesday, Nov. 8. To check your voter registration, visit the OK Voter Portal.