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Race Ratings: Boren’s Exit Makes for Tossup

File Photo
Ex-Rep. Brad Carson (right) said Tuesday that he will seek his old House seat after Rep. Dan Boren’s retirement announcement. Carson lost a 2004 Senate bid.

However, Boren’s retirement drastically changes the race. Boren had not faced a top challenger here in several cycles, which is likely in no small part because of his friendship with Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.), a former National Republican Congressional Committee chairman. But now that it’s an open-seat race, much will depend on Republican recruitment efforts.

State Sen. Josh Brecheen (R) has been mentioned as a possible candidate, but his office did not return an email request seeking comment.

Several Democrats immediately expressed interest in the seat following Boren’s announcement. The most notable of the pack is former Rep. Brad Carson, who represented Boren’s district until his failed bid for Senate in 2004. Carson quickly announced Tuesday that he will seek his former seat. 

At least two other Democrats have been mentioned as possible candidates for the seat. State Sen. Jim Wilson challenged Boren in the Democratic primary in 2010, but he garnered only 24 percent of the vote. Wilson said in a statement that he was “surprised” by Boren’s announcement and that “it is premature to make a decision” about another bid.

State Sen. Kenneth Corn, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor last year, is also likely to run “no matter who else is in the race,” according to one of his aides.

The minimal alterations to the 2nd do not change the competitiveness of the district, which is known for its rural, working-class populations. The district acquired conservative parts of Rogers County in the north and more Democratic-leaning parts of Marshall County in the south from Cole’s district.

3rd District
Incumbent: Frank Lucas (R)
9th term (78 percent)
Rating: Safe Republican

The 3rd district is the largest in the state, sprawling from the rural western panhandle all the way to the Oklahoma City suburbs. The mostly rural and agricultural area continues to lose population and had to take on even more territory under the new Congressional map.

The 3rd district picked up parts of Canadian County, which includes many of the suburbs and exurbs around Oklahoma City and contains some of the fastest-growing parts of the state. But most importantly for Lucas, this is all solidly GOP territory.

The 3rd district also picked up parts of Creek County, another Republican area, from the 1st district. One local politician referred to this area as “the West Virginia of Oklahoma politics” because of its poor local economy and the fact that, as a result, local politicians avoid taking this area on.

In any case, this is still the safest and most reliable Republican seat in the state — and that’s saying a lot for Oklahoma.

4th District
Incumbent: Tom Cole (R)
5th term (unopposed)
Rating: Safe Republican

The 4th exploded in population over the past decade, growing more quickly than any other Congressional district in the state. As a result, Cole shed parts of his district to three others under the new map: Marshall County to the 2nd district, parts of Canadian County to the 3rd district and parts of Cleveland County to the 5th district.

These areas are all heavily GOP territory, but it won’t change the competitiveness of Cole’s seat. All of his territory, new and old, is essentially the makeup of a safe Republican seat.

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