by Patrick B. McGuigan
Col. Steve Russell — a former state senator and author of an autobiographical book about his U.S. Army unit’s role in the capture of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein – surged to a first-place finish in last week’s Republican primary in the Fifth U.S. Congressional District of Oklahoma. He gained 24,597 voters, 26.6 percent in all, to state Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas’ 13,440 votes, or 24.5 percent.
The two hopefuls qualified for the August 26 runoff election.
In a pre-primary interview with this reporter, Russell described himself as best positioned among the conservative candidates to advance “restoration of constitutional government to the American people. The government derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. We are blessed in America to have a Constitution to work with that allows us to curb the powers of government when we deem that appropriate. We can constitutionally control the reach of the government and put in leaders who understand the limits of government under the Constitution.”
Asked to name his three top issues in the campaign, Russell continued, “Second, Oklahomans must protect life and liberty as defined in the Constitution. It’s our job to protect life, liberty property. It is not the job of the government to tell us how to act in exercising our economic and other freedoms. Government has been losing sight of the very ideals put in place to limit its actions, and to protect the inalienable rights of the people.
“Third, balancing the federal budget. If we don’t get a budget that will curb deficit spending we may lose our country.”
Russell elaborated: “I remember in the 1992-93 time frame we made cuts in the armed services. We went from 1.2 million soldiers to about 560,000 in the glow after the fall of the Soviet Union. If the U.S. military could do that then I know we can, as a country, live within our means.
“There are any ways to attack the budget problem. We should be leasing for more oil and gas exploration on federal lands, then assign the money from leases directly to retiring the federal deficit. If we increase energy production we can gain ‘hard money’ from exports. Looking back in history, I liken the possibilities to those at the time of the explosion of British steam power. In a fairly short time, we could transform the nation’s economy.
“We are sitting on and suppressing a great capacity in our country. Thanks to the Bill of Rights we have and can improve on laws to allow the genius of individuals and companies to benefit the entire country.”
Russell served one term in the state Senate and describes himself as “a fifth generation Oklahoman.”
He is the author of “We Got Him!” — a memoir of his unit’s role in the capture of Saddam Hussein. After his term in the Legislature, Russell founded a small rifle manufacturing business and traveled widely promoting his book.
The City Sentinel previously reported in print on Commissioner Douglas’ candidacy. We will cover the race further as the August 26 primary nears.
Rounding out the crowded GOP primary field were state Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond (9,226, 16.8 percent); state Rep. Mike Turner, R-Oklahoma City (7,757, 14.1 percent); former state Rep. Shane Jett, R-Seminole (7,019, 12.8 percent) and Rev. Harvey Sparks (2,895, 5.3 percent).
In the November general election, winner of the Douglas-Russell runoff will face either Emeritus Prof. Tom Guild or state Sen. Al McAffrey, D-Oklahoma City. The pair of progressive Democrats finished first and second, respectively in the June 24 party primary, but neither had a majority of the votes cast.