Oklahoma’s Mullin could be first Native in Senate since 2005

Nov 8, 2022, 3:10 AM | Updated: 3:50 am
FILE - Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., speaks during a news conference in front of a USPS post office in...

FILE - Rep. Kendra Horn, D-Okla., speaks during a news conference in front of a USPS post office in Oklahoma City, Aug. 18, 2020. Horn is running for Senate in the Nov. 8 election. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

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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Oklahoma’s Mullin could be first Native in Senate since 2005