McAffrey, Guild square off in 5th District Democratic runoff

Sen. Al McAffrey and Tom Guild will face each other in Tuesday's runoff election for the Democratic nomination. Photos by Sue Ogrocki.

Tim Talley,
Associated Press

Oklahoma City — For the second time in as many election cycles, former state Sen. Al McAffrey and retired university professor Tom Guild will square off in Tuesday's runoff election for the Democratic nomination in central Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District.

Democratic voters in most of Oklahoma County and all of Pottawatomie and Seminole counties will choose their nominee in the runoff that is a rematch of the 5th District race in 2014 in which McAffrey defeated Guild for the Democratic nomination.

The two candidates reached Tuesday's runoff after they received the most votes in the June 28 primary race in which no candidate received more than 50 percent. A third Democrat, Leona Leonard of Seminole, was eliminated.

The winner of the runoff will face Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Russell, who is seeking a second two-year term, and Libertarian Zachary Knight in the Nov. 8 general election.

McAffrey and Guild are vying to become the first member of their party to represent the district in more than 40 years. Conservative Democrat John Jarman represented the district for more than two decades before switching to Republican in 1975. The seat has been in GOP hands ever since.

McAffrey, 68, was first elected as a state representative in 2006 and was the first openly gay person ever elected to the Oklahoma Legislature. McAffrey served in the Legislature for eight years and did not seek re-election to a seat in the state Senate in 2014.

McAffrey, U.S. Navy veteran and former Oklahoma City police officer who has operated several small businesses, said his experience in the legislature has prepared him well for service in Congress.

"What you can do is be a voice for the people of Oklahoma," McAffrey said. "One thing that's hurting in Oklahoma is education. That's what they're looking at."

He said many communities are also struggling with sewer and wastewater issues and are not receiving any help from the federal government. He said he will work to secure federal grants to help communities with their infrastructure issues.

But Guild, who taught political science and legal studies at the University of Central Oklahoma for 27 years and for three years at Oklahoma City University, said McAffrey is a career politician and criticized his service in the Legislature.

Guild, 62, said that over the past decade McAffrey has run for positions in the state House, Senate and Congress.

"We think he qualified under the definition of career politician," said Guild, who also ran unsuccessfully for the 5th District seat in 2010 and 2012.

McAffrey rejected the "career politician" label and described himself as "a small business owner."

Guild, a former GOP activist who ran unsuccessfully three times for Corporation Commissioner as a Republican, also said McAffrey missed 303 votes while serving in the state Senate in 2014 alone, 37 percent of all the votes conducted in the Senate that year. He said a major duty of a congressman is to show up to work.

"Mr. McAffrey was neglecting to do his job in the state Legislature," Guild said. "The citizens who are being represented by that person are being short-changed."

"I'm sure that I've missed some votes, but I don't think it's anything like 300," McAffrey said. He said many votes are merely procedural and are not final votes on legislation.

"I know what I need to do. I'm proud of my record and I'll stand on my record," McAffrey said. "I'm electable. I know how to represent the people."

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Copyright 2016 The Gayly - 8/20/2016 @ 2:29 p.m. CDT.