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March 27, 2014

Congressional candidates field questions

OKLAHOMA CITY — Three of the Republican candidates vying for Oklahoma’s open 5th Congressional District seat in Oklahoma City touted their conservative credentials Wednesday and fielded questions from members of a conservative group.

Members of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee voted to endorse Army combat veteran and former Republican state Sen. Steve Russell, of Oklahoma City after he participated in a forum with former state Rep. Shane Jett and Harvey Sparks, a former staffer of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine.

The three are among six Republicans and four Democrats seeking the seat being vacated by two-term Republican U.S. Rep. James Lankford.

Republicans state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond and Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas and state Rep. Mike Turner, both of Oklahoma City, did not participate in the forum.

The Oklahoma City-based OCPAC reported having about $20,000 available to spend on statewide and Oklahoma legislative races, but founder Charlie Meadows said it only issues endorsements, and does not contribute, in federal races.

Russell told the crowd of about 100 at the Olivet Baptist Church in central Oklahoma City that any vote he cast in Congress would be viewed through two filters: the U.S. Constitution and “my Judeo-Christian ethic that is formed by my biblical view of the world, which is based upon my belief in Jesus Christ.”

All three candidates voiced concern over the country’s increasing national debt and the growing size and scope of the federal government. When asked if they were elected, would they support current Republican U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, none of the three said they would.

Sparks, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, said he moved his family to the Washington, D.C., area after Bridenstine knocked off a five-term incumbent congressman in Tulsa in 2012. Like Bridenstine, Sparks vowed to serve no more than three terms if elected.

The 5th Congressional District includes nearly all of Oklahoma County, along with Seminole and Pottawatomie counties.

— AP

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