Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Insiders Panel: a briefing on the top tier candidates in CD5

As promised on Friday, I am publishing comments in full by one of the MuskogeePolitico.com Insiders Panel members. This particular insider has the experience and connections to provide information about Oklahoma politics that many don't have access to.

5th District GOP Primary: Top 4 candidates examined

Even though the race for Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District has drawn many candidates, I feel there are only four viable candidates on the ticket. Quite simply, the winner will be a combination of who has the most money and who runs the best campaign. This seems like an oversimplified statement but it is actually quite complex in 2020. Let's take a look at the top four candidates in the order I believe they will win on the primary ballot:

#1) Terry Neese. Terry has been deeply involved in OKC for 40 years. She started Terry Neese Personnel and has become a national figure speaking before Congress on issues related to small business and women-owned business. Terry created The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women and its subsidiary Peace Through Business, which helps women from war torn countries learn how to start a business. Why does this matter? Because Terry has the credentials to match Kendra Horn when it comes to women's issues. Some pollsters say this is a "women's race" for CD 5 and I think Terry is the only candidate with deep enough roots with the women voters to beat Horn.

Neese has put $450,000 of her own money in the race and has been frugal with expenses, leaving over $640,000 in the bank at the end of the 3rd quarter.

#2) Stephanie Bice. Stephanie enjoys the luxury of being a sitting State Senator who was recruited to run for this seat. She had told many people she was not running, but the offer of campaign help from heavy hitters in DC along with deep ties to PAC money to finance her campaign convinced her to run. Bice is a young, attractive candidate that many think will appeal to the young voters and could match Horn for the young women and professional vote. She has had a working campaign staff for several months and has spent much of the money she has raised. Stephanie is the only candidate to have sent 2 mailers and paid for digital ads which is boasting her name recognition.

Watch the Senate agenda and bill sponsorship for Bice to head up key legislation that will get her free press and name recognition. Being a political insider may have benefits, but in the current climate, Bice may suffer because of being a current elected official. Bice will not have to give up her seat to run for Congress and if she wins there will have to be a special election to replace her.

#3) David Hill. David is from the well respected Hill family that owns Kimray manufacturing and were the financiers behind Character Training Institute. David and his wife are both wealthy and could self-finance. While the name Hill is popular in some circles in OKC, David has very low name recognition and will have to spend a lot of money to overcome the popularity of the other three top tier candidates. Polls suggest it is harder for a male to win an election going head to head with a female and the country is very focused on female candidates. For this reason, I list Hill as #3.

#4) Janet Barresi. Janet is very well known having served as State Superintendent of Education, but I believe that is also her greatest downfall. Teachers do not like Barresi and polls show Republicans will either not vote or vote for Horn over Barresi in the general election. In her race for re-election Janet put in over a million dollars of her own money and still lost by 10 points. Barresi's primary support will come from School Choice and OCPA supporters. I do not believe she has the support to beat incumbent Kendra Horn.

I believe a ground game is critical to winning CD5. Bice will be tied up in session so the other 3 candidates have the upper hand for having the time to be on the doorsteps. The primary will cost at least two million dollars, and with a guaranteed run-off cost of another million, whoever wins the Republican nomination will have spent millions before they face Kendra Horn. Money is the #1 key to winning this election!

I have heard a rumor of an additional well-known candidate getting in the race but at this point I believe if anyone else decides to jump in they will suffer the fate of Democratic Presidential candidate Deval Patrick -- too little, too late.

This column was penned by a member of the MuskogeePolitico.com Insiders Panel. This insider is well-positioned to provide key insights on Oklahoma politics. To read thoughts by the rest of the Insiders Panel, read my post entitled 'Insiders Panel on CD5 race: GOP top tier clear, leader still uncertain'.


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