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Economy, National Security Top Concerns After Russell Wins In Fifth District

Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana - June 18, 2011
Gage Skidmore
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Flickr Creative Commons
Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana - June 18, 2011

Republican former state Sen. Steve Russell defeated Democratic state Sen. Al McAffrey Tuesday night in the race to fill the seat representing Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. James Lankford.

Lankford won election to the U.S. Senate to fill the expiring term of Tom Coburn. The open Fifth District includes most of Oklahoma County and Seminole and Pottawatomie Counties in central Oklahoma.

Russell says that voters told him to focus on economic issues along with the foreign policy of the Obama Administration. Russell says the rise of Islamic Extremism in Iraq is troubling.

“Not only do you want government to run but we have some very, very tough decisions to make with national defense,” Russell said. “We could really weaken and harm our country if we don’t do that right.”

Russell, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former state Senator, fought in the U.S. invasion in Iraq. He wrote the book "We Got Him," about his unit's role in the hunt for and capture of Saddam Hussein. Russell will join Oklahoma’s all-GOP delegation to Congress in a new political environment after Republicans captured the Senate and increased their majority in the House of Representatives.

Russell defeated McAffrey by more than 23 points. He says he appreciates his opponent’s military service – both are veterans — and encouraged Russell to remember the diversity of the people in the district.

“He was a great officer in the Army,” McAffrey told StateImpact Oklahoma’s Logan Layden. “Now he’s moving into Congress. I hope he tries to represent everybody in District Five. It’s such a diverse district, and I represented a large portion of it here in Oklahoma City.”

McAffrey is the first openly gay lawmaker in Oklahoma history. He had to give up his state Senate seat to run for Congress. Democrat Kay Floyd will replace him after winning her primary in June and not drawing an opponent in the general election.

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