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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Tulsa fast-food restaurateur won the Republican nomination in Tuesday’s race for the open U.S. House seat in Tulsa.

Kevin Hern defeated longtime Tulsa prosecutor Tim Harris in the GOP primary runoff to advance to the November ballot in the race for the state’s only open congressional seat. Hern will face Democratic nominee Tim Gilpin in November.

The seat was previously held by U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, a Republican tapped by President Donald Trump to be administrator of NASA.

Republicans have held the seat for more than 30 years and are heavily favored to keep it in November.

The 56-year-old Hern runs a company that owns and operates a chain of McDonald’s restaurants in northeast Oklahoma.

Democrats haven’t held a congressional seat from Oklahoma since 2013.

Even though the 1st District is open, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Anna Langthorn believes the party’s best chance at breaking the GOP’s federal delegation stranglehold in November could come in the 5th District in Oklahoma City. In that race, nonprofit agency director Kendra Horn defeated retired college professor and perennial candidate Tom Guild in Tuesday’s runoff. Horn is seeking to oust Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, who is seeking a third term.

“Generally, Oklahomans are not happy with the status quo,” Langthorn said, “and our Republicans in Congress are still part of the status quo.”

Other Democratic primary runoff winners in races for U.S. House seats on Tuesday were Tahlequah Mayor Jason Nichols in eastern Oklahoma’s sprawling 2nd District held by Republican U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, and educator Mary Brannon of Washington in the 4th District seat held by veteran Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Cole.

Oklahoma Republican Party Chair Pam Pollard said she feels confident in the GOP’s ability to maintain its monopoly on the state’s congressional seats and believes 5th District voters will support Russell over a “Democrat in Congress who will vote for Nancy Pelosi to return as speaker.”


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