5th district Republican congressional candidates - Steve Russell

Six Republicans want a chance to be the party's nominee for Oklahoma's Fifth Congressional District. The seat is being vacated by Congressman James Lankford who is running for the U.S. Senate. Fox 25 sat down with all six candidates as they head into the June primary.The order of the candidate profile stories was randomly selected.Lt. Col. (Ret) Steve Russell, former State Senator from Oklahoma City."It is about putting a leader in congress," former state senator Steve Russell told Fox 25, "We have a country that has done some terrible things to itself."Russell says even with the problems he sees facing the nation there is good news. "I'm an optimist, there's no future in pessimism and these problems and these problems we actually have the capacity to fix."Before politics, Russell's leadership was on the battlefield. He led a group of soldiers involved in the capture of Saddam Hussein."I think what separates me from other candidates is I've had to make decisions where it was not someone's comfort or convenience that was at stake, it was people's lives," Russell said of his experience.Russell says the key issues facing the next congress will include the national debt, healthcare and the second amendment. He says they are big problems, but not too big for one person to affect change."People say, 'What can you really do?'...and yes there are 435 people with strong wills and different opinions. I'm under no illusion I can get them all to behave, but I do know this, that a leader, properly introduced is able to persuade with calm with persistence you can persuade people to do the right things."While Russell is not the top fundraiser in the 5th district primary race, he was the early beneficiary of support from political action committees, or PACs. The PACs have not contributed directly to the campaign, but are running ads that support Russell, at least one other candidate is receiving a similar benefit. Two other 5th district candidates have received direct financial backing from political action committees.Russell says while some candidate criticize PAC money, he welcomes the support of like-minded groups. "Why would I turn awaya pro-life group, which I believe in? Why would I turn away someone who wants to lend their voice to mine on veterans' issues those are core things I believe in?Russell says his experiences on the battlefield and in the state senate make him uniquely qualified to once again step up and defend his country."I can't thank the Oklahoma people enough at how much they have emboldened and encouraged me to do this and I'm not going to let them down."Ultimately Republican voters will have the final say if Russell is the GOP choice to head to the November ballot. Russell faces five other challengers in the June 24th primary: Senator Clark Jolley, Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, State Representative Mike Turner, Harvey Sparks, and former StateRepresentative Shane Jett.