Bridenstine claims upset over Sullivan
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
6/27/12 at 8:49 AM
Read all the election coverage.
Jim Bridenstine upset five-term incumbent John Sullivan in Tuesday's 1st Congressional District Republican primary late Tuesday, taking the lead with the first returns and slowly building on it as returns trickled in.
"We ran this campaign on the facts and the truth, and there was a lot ... negative going on - not on our end," Bridenstine said in declaring victory late Tuesday. "We ran on the facts. And today we were victorious."
Bridenstine defeated Sullivan by slightly less than 4,000 votes out of 52,083 cast - about 25 percent of the registered Republicans in the 1st District.
"Tonight, the voters spoke," Sullivan said in a statement released late Tuesday. "Unfortunately, we didn't come out on top. It is the honor of a lifetime to represent the people of the First District of Oklahoma."
Sullivan congratulated Bridenstine, saying, "I'm sure he will do a fine job representing the people of the First District."
Sullivan said he intends "to spend the next few months working to make Barack Obama a one-term president."
A 37-year-old lieutenant commander in the Navy Reserve, Bridenstine successfully focused Republican voters' general frustration with Congress into a direct dissatisfaction with Sullivan, who Bridenstine said had done nothing to distinguish himself in 10 years in office.
Bridenstine also emphasized his academic credentials - degrees from Rice and Cornell universities - and his career as a Navy pilot, and he cultivated older voters with a series of patriotic music concerts and other events.
He hammered at what he said were Sullivan's excessive missed votes and lack of leadership. Although he catered to disaffected conservatives and tea party Republicans, Bridenstine's actual policy positions were not much different from Sullivan's on most issues.
With a big advantage in money, Sullivan launched a late advertising blitz that drew attention to Bridenstine's own voting record and questioned his performance as executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.
The campaign pointed out that the museum's tax returns indicate that it lost hundreds of thousands of dollars during Bridenstine's less than two years in charge.
"We need to thank (Sullivan) for his service, and certainly we need to unite the Republican Party so we can be victorious in November," Bridenstine said Tuesday night.
While Bridenstine and Sullivan waited into the night for the final results, Democrat John Olson held a fundraiser at a downtown Tulsa restaurant and said he was ready to take on either Republican in the November general election.
"This is an example of the frustration in the Republican Party," he said. "I see this is an opportunity for people to look at what a Democrat has to offer."
Olson said he is eager to debate the Republican candidate on "interest on student loans, protection of the environment and alternatives to the Paul Ryan budget."
Independent Craig Allen is also on the ballot in the Nov. 6 general election.
World Staff Writer Molly Bullock contributed to this story.
U.S. House District 1, GOP
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365
Republican candidate Jim Bridenstine (left) smiles as he addresses supporters during a watch party Tuesday at LaFortune Park. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World
GOP primary victor Jim Bridenstine (right) greets supporter Greg Strange during a watch party Tuesday at LaFortune Park. MATT BARNARD/Tulsa World