- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma voters have chosen the final slate of candidates for federal, state and local offices whose names will appear on the general election ballot this fall.

Republican former state Sen. Steve Russell and Democratic state Sen. Al McAffrey won their parties’ nominations in runoff elections Tuesday and will face each other in the Nov. 4 general election for central Oklahoma’s open 5th Congressional District seat. Three independent candidates are also seeking the seat.

Russell defeated Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas for the GOP nomination. McAffrey defeated retired university professor Tom Guild.

Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and Iraqi war veteran who served in the state Senate from 2008 to 2012, was one of six Republicans who sought the party’s nomination in the June 24 primary. McAffrey was among three Democratic candidates in the 5th District primary race. No candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote, forcing the runoff.

They are campaigning for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. James Lankford, the Republican nominee for an open U.S. Senate seat vacated by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who is retiring.

In other elections Tuesday, state Sen. Connie Johnson won the Democratic primary for an open U.S. Senate seat and will face Lankford and independent candidate Mark Beard in the general election. Johnson, of Oklahoma City, beat perennial candidate Jim Rogers of Midwest City.

Longtime educator John Cox won the Democratic nomination for state schools superintendent and will take on Republican Joy Hofmeister, who defeated incumbent Janet Barresi in the June primary. Cox defeated teacher Freda Deskin.

Russell said his runoff victory in the 5th District race was “very humbling.”

“It’s been an incredible grass-roots campaign. It’s been a true campaign of the people,” Russell said.

McAffrey did not immediately return a telephone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Russell won the GOP nomination even though he raised less than half of the campaign contributions raised by his opponent.

Federal Election Commission reports indicate that Douglas raised $927,739 for her campaign and had $181,167 in cash on hand as of Aug. 6. Russell raised $367,423 and had $46,132 on hand, according to the FEC.

“I think it shows that the people still own the vote,” Russell said. “It’s incredible to watch. You have to have some tools that you can use. But it’s not necessarily the tools that make the race.”

Voter Michael Davis, who is in banking in Oklahoma City, said he voted for Russell because of the candidate’s military background.

“I like his military service, and I value that over political careers,” said Davis, 43.

During the runoff campaign, Douglas accused Russell of missing 770 votes during his four-year Senate term. Davis said he didn’t know how to answer that, but added: “Both campaigns have kind of done some things that are a little marginal, so somewhat discount that,” he said.

McAffrey was first elected as a state representative in 2006 and was the first openly gay person ever elected to the Oklahoma Legislature. Guild ran unsuccessfully for the 5th District seat in 2010 and 2012.

Bridgid Cook, 45, said she voted for McAffrey in the Democratic runoff.

“He is a neighbor,” Cook said. “I know several of his family members and trust them.” Cook said she has met McAffrey several times and appreciates the work he does.

Russell and McAffrey served in the Senate together. Russell said he plans to stress his views on constitutional government during the general election campaign.

“I think we need to get back to the fundamentals,” he said.


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