MIAMI — Ottawa County is the roadmap to victory, according to U.S. Senate candidate Abby Broyles.
“It’s essential,” Broyles said during a campaign stop in Miami Friday afternoon. “Ottawa County is part of our roadmap to winning. The numbers here show that. We do have the support here of so many people. We need them to turn out in November.
An appearance at the Miami Regional Chamber of Commerce was pushed back because of wintry weather.
Broyles is taking on Jim Inhofe (R-Tulsa), who has served in the U.S. Senate since 1994, in the Nov. 3 general election.
Broyles outdistanced three other Democratic challengers in the June 30 primary: Sheila Bilyeu, R.O. Joe Cassidy Jr., and Elysabeth Britt.
Inhofe crushed three other Republicans in the first step towards his bid for reelection John Tompkins, JJ Stitt and Neil Mavis.
“What Inhofe has done to northeast Oklahoma is not known to a lot of folks across the country and, frankly, across the state,” Broyles said. “A lot of people aren’t aware of it. I think if I am able to work with leaders and show them what has happened here and how it has destroyed homes and lives, I think I can get the support to undo part of what he did.”
Inhofe has drawn the wrath of Miami and much of northeast Oklahoma as a whole because of his stance on levels of Grand Lake, which has caused repeated disastrous flooding in the area.
“It’s law, so it’s going to take a lot of work,” Broyles said. “It will be one of my commitments to get done hopefully in the first part of my term.
“I’ve been out here, I have talked to families and I have seen what has happened. It’s wrong. It needs to be fixed.”
Broyles spent almost eight years in front of a TV camera as a news anchor and reporter, covering the state capitol for Oklahoma City station KFOR before going to law school at Oklahoma City University.
She thinks her time in television has helped prepare her as she makes her first bid for a public office.
“I sat in living rooms across the state listened to families who are struggling, who had maybe been through a tragedy in their family or affected by a tornado,” Broyles said. “I listened to them and told their stories on television. It’s helped me to get to know the people in our state in a meaningful way.
“I think my experience as a journalist has helped set me up for public service because I am able to relate to people and connect with people. That’s the kind of leaders we want: leaders who are accessible and who want to listen to us.”
The campaign has given Broyles to see parts of the state she’s never been to before.
“I didn’t know how severe the flooding was until I came up here in February,” she said. “There are things like this that I am glad that I am running because I have been made aware of them.”
Among the key issues Broyles has advocated over the course of the campaign are reforms to the mental healthcare and social services system, the gender gap, climate change, keeping children safe, criminal justice system reform, taking care of service members, standing up for the agricultural industry and decriminalizing marijuana.
She doesn’t support police defunding.
Broyles said she will be on the road campaigning constantly until November and has a strategic digital plan to reach voters on their laptops and cell phones as well as social media as well as a big television and mail ad campaign.
The pandemic, which has brought political campaigns to a grinding halt, her campaign continues.
“It’s been tough. Like everybody else, we’ve had to adjust,” Broyles said. “We’ve had to figure out how to get our work done. It’s definitely changed the game and how we do elections. It’s not the traditional campaign rally any more. It’s a Zoom town hall and a lot of people who may not have access to that, we’re finding other ways to connect with them.”