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Oklahoma Primary: Voters will decide whether to expand Medicaid under Obamacare
Republicans will also pick challenger to Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
OKLAHOMA CITY (CFP) — Voters in Oklahoma will decide Tuesday whether to make an end run around resistant statehouse politicians and implement Medicaid expansion authorized as part of Obamacare.
Also in Tuesday’s primary, voters in the 5th U.S. House District in metro Oklahoma City will pick a nominee to face Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn, who flipped the seat in 2018 and is one of the GOP’s top targets for 2020.
Sooner State Democrats will also pick a nominee to face Republican U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, running for a fifth full term that could secure his place in the Senate into his 90s.
In-person voting opens at 7 a.m. and closes at 7 p.m., although absentee voting is expected to break records due to concerns about coronavirus.
Oklahoma is one of 14 Republican-controlled states whose leaders have refused to expand Medicaid to extend coverage to low-income residents without insurance who don’t currently qualify for the program but can’t afford private coverage on the Obamacare exchanges.
According to proponents, expansion could benefit 200,000 state residents and help rescue rural hospitals how in financial trouble.
Proponents collected enough petition signatures to put expansion on the ballot Tuesday as a constitutional amendment, following similar successful efforts in the conservative states of Utah, Idaho and Nebraska to use voter initiatives to get around lawmakers philosophically opposed to participating in Obamacare.
Republican Governor Kevin Stitt also opposes expansion, arguing that the state cannot afford to cover its part of the cost amid a budget crunch caused by the coronavirus crisis.
In the 5th District, nine Republicans are competing for the right to take on Horn, with the race expected to come down to State Senator Stephanie Bice and businesswoman Terry Neese, both of whom have raised $1 million for the race. Also in the field is former State School Superintendent Janet Barresi and David Hill, a businessman from Edmond.
If no candidate wins a majority Tuesday, the top two voter-getters will face off in an Aug. 25 runoff for the right to face Horn, whose election to the House from deep-red Oklahoma was one of the biggest surprises of the 2018 cycle.
Horn has raised more than $3.3 million as she fights to keep her seat.
The Democratic race for U.S. Senate features four candidates, including Abby Broyles, a former investigative reporter for an Oklahoma City television station, and Elysabeth Britt, a human resources professional who finished third in the 5th District race in 2018.
Inhofe will be the prohibitive favorite in November. At 85, if he wins, he’ll be 92 by the time his term ends in 2029.