WASHINGTON — Freshman Democrat Kendra Horn leads Oklahoma’s delegation in this quarter’s campaign contributions after kicking off an aggressive fundraising campaign aimed at defending her seat in the state’s only battleground district.
Horn’s campaign reported raising nearly $373,000 since January, more than any other individual in Oklahoma’s congressional delegation, according to a report filed by her campaign in the Federal Election Commission on April 15.
At the same time, the state’s senior senator, Jim Inhofe, in an indication that he may be seeking a fifth term in the Senate, reported raising more than $310,000.
But Horn outperforming even a veteran politician in fundraising isn’t exactly surprising.
It’s what is expected from a freshman lawmaker whose surprise 2018 victory flipped Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District from red to blue for the first time in four decades, said Keith Gaddie, University of Oklahoma journalism professor.
“If (Republicans) want to take back Congressional District 5, their best shot is coming up in 2020,” Gaddie said. “So she needs a war chest to prepare for that.”
Heavy fundraising, like Horn’s daily email blasts to supporters, is necessary to defend against a Republican challenge and to scare off opponents, Gaddie said.
Horn received $372,737 from nearly 2,000 contributions, more than half of them from first-time donors and 62 percent from women, according to her campaign. The most common donation was $10, the campaign said.
“I’m honored and humbled by the outpouring of support, especially from so many new individuals, and am pleased we’ve continued to grow the largest grassroots organization in Oklahoma,” Horn said in a statement.
The campaign reported raising $94,503, one-quarter of the total, from political action committees. It reports having $365,960 cash on hand with $34,800 in debt, according to the FEC report.
Oklahoma Democratic Party chair and executive director Anna Langthorn said she thinks it will be “challenging” to hold the seat since it is a presidential election cycle and Republicans are gunning for the district. Still, she remains optimistic: “I think that we can do it for sure.”
“I don't think anyone anticipated that we would win the seat in 2018, and I think that they’re underestimating how much that district is changing,” Langthorn said, referring to Oklahoma City’s shifting demographics and more progressive values.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in February announced that Horn is among 44 vulnerable incumbents who will receive extra help and resources as part of the party’s Frontline program aimed at defending the Democratic House majority.
Horn is also on a list of 55 House Democrats the National Republican Congressional Committee named as top targets in the 2020 election.
Each member of Congress is required to disclose quarterly campaign finance data to the FEC. These reports became available April 15.
Inhofe, 84, reported raising $310,515 with $185,000, or roughly 60 percent, coming from PACs, according to the FEC report. This number is up 58 percent compared to $179,808 he reported raising in April 2013 when he was last gearing up for an election cycle.
Inhofe reports having $887,344 in cash on hand and no debt. He will celebrate 25 years in the Senate this November.
Gaddie said senators like Inhofe who serve into their ‘70s and ‘80s are usually there for life because the Senate “becomes their world — it’s hard to leave that world.”
“He might change his mind when filing comes around this time next year, but for right now, every indicator is he’s cranking up the funding to run again,” Gaddie said.
The state’s other freshman representative, Kevin Hern, reported raising $86,930 in total with $54,400, or roughly 63 percent, coming from PACs, according to the FEC report. The campaign reports $123,856 cash on hand with more than $1.42 million in debt.
Rep. Tom Cole reported raising $146,360 with $49,800, or roughly one-third, from PACs, according to the FEC report. Cole’s campaign reported more than $1.24 million cash on hand and no debt.
Rep. Markwayne Mullin reported raising $91,545 with 76,100, or more than 80 percent, coming from PACS, according to the FEC report. The campaign reports $97,113 cash on hand and no debt.
Rep. Frank Lucas reported raising $84,000 with $71,900, or roughly 86 percent, coming from PACs. The campaign reports $411,138 cash on hand and no debt.
The state’s other senator, James Lankford, is not up for re-election until 2022.