Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District's candidates faced off during a News 9 debate on Wednesday.
U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, a Democrat, and Republican state Sen. Stephanie Bice sparred over healthcare, law enforcement and more.
News 9 reporters Caleigh Bourgeois and Storme Jones fact-checked some of the candidates’ statements.
“I passed a state question that created 5,000 new jobs,” Bice said.
During her time at the Oklahoma Capitol, Bice spent years leading the charge to modernize Oklahoma’s liquor laws.
An official with the Oklahoma ABLE Commission said the changes have been a “good thing,” for the state financially.
ABLE reports the commission’s revenue has more than doubled in the last year, funneling money back to the state. The commission also reported a large increase in employee licenses since Bice’s legislation passed.
However, News 9 was unable to confirm nor confute the 5,000 jobs figure.
While addressing the oil and gas industry, Horn referenced a right-leaning newspaper’s praise of her energy record.
“The conservative Washington Examiner newspaper called me, ‘the most pro-fossil fuel democrat in the country,’” Horn said.
News 9 confirms, in a September 8 article, The Washington Examines called Horn ‘the Most Pro-Fossil Fuel Democrat.’”
The two candidates also debated at length regarding law enforcement.
Of Bice, Horn claimed, “She voted for budgets that cut public safety including police training and resulted in the cancellation of this year's trooper academy.”
According to state records, Bice did vote in favor of the Oklahoma’s 2021 budget, which included cutting the Department of Public Safety’s appropriations by 8.7%.
However, the 2020 cadets already graduated, and a spokesperson for DPS said it is uncertain at this time what will happen with the 2021 academy.
Of Horn, Bice claimed, “Nancy Pelosi wouldn't be giving $3 million against me in this race if she thought that Kendra was a bipartisan member.”
According to opensecrets.org, The House Majority PAC, closely aligned with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have spent at least $3 million both supporting Horn and advocating against Bice.
The two candidates also discussed the Affordable Care Act.
“In Oklahoma, there are only two healthcare companies offering coverage on the exchange right now, and that's not competition,” Bice said.
The Oklahoma Insurance Commission confirms that out of six total carriers in the marketplace for 2021, only two offer statewide plans.
When accused of siding with U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Horn said that’s not always the case.
“I voted against the speaker and an unwise $3 trillion package twice,” Horn said.
One of the biggest areas of disagreement was the candidates’ interpretations of the For the People Act, which Horn supported.
“Not only did HR1 look to federalize our election system, but it also would allow candidates like yourself to take up to $5 million of taxpayer money to use in a campaign,” Bice said to Horn.
Confirming Bice’s statement or Horn’s rebuttal depends on how one reads the bill.
Much of the semantics regarding HR1 has been highly politicized on both sides.
According to a Poynter article, the money for the campaign matching programs would come from penalties and settlements rather than directly from federal taxes. Republicans and Democrats have disagreed on whether those funds are technically taxpayer dollars.
The article also said HR1 overhauls voter registration which some Republicans argue amounts to federalizing the vote. The bill offers online voter registration, establishes automatic voter registration and restores voting rights for felons among other things.
Both candidates agreed that Oklahoma has one of the safest election systems in the country. The state Board of Elections has stated this several times.