GOP has the numbers to win U.S. House seat
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Sunday, October 28, 2012
10/28/12 at 3:21 AM
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Republicans have an automatic advantage in Oklahoma's 1st Congressional District that goes beyond having 65,000 more registered voters than the Democrats. The district hasn't elected a Democrat since James R. Jones in 1984. In the district's last competitive general election, in 2008, Republican John Sullivan received two-thirds of the vote.
That same year, Barack Obama received 28 percent in the three counties where almost all the district's voters live, which was even worse than the state as a whole.
All of that would seem to make GOP nominee Jim Bridenstine a prohibitive favorite against Democrat John Olson and independent Craig Allen in this year's Nov. 6 general election.
But Olson and Allen hope a confluence of circumstances will give them the same opening for an upset that enabled Bridenstine to defeat Sullivan in this year's Republican primary.
Olson has worked hard to portray himself as the moderate in the field and Bridenstine as an extremist with dangerous ideas about taxes and the economy. He has particularly attacked Bridenstine's support of the Fair Tax, which proposes replacing all federal taxes with a single all-encompassing sales tax of around 30 percent.
Allen is trying to position himself as a sort of "none of the above" candidate who can capitalize on what he says is a lack of enthusiasm for either major party candidates.
A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Bridenstine spent his early years in Arlington, Texas, and Tulsa, and graduated from Jenks High School in 1993. A swimmer specializing in the butterfly, Bridenstine attended Rice University on an athletic scholarship and earned a degree in economics, management and psychology. He then enlisted in the Navy, where he became a pilot and flew command and control missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
After leaving active duty, Bridenstine lived in Florida and earned a master's of business administration degree from Cornell University through an executive education program. He returned to Oklahoma in 2008 to run the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. Since 2010, he has been a Naval Reserve pilot and business consultant. He holds the rank of lieutenant commander.
Olson was born and raised in Minnesota. He enlisted in the Army after high school, served in the U.S. and South Korea, and now holds the rank of first lieutenant in the Army Reserve, where he trains drill sergeants. He served in Afghanistan for a year.
Olson earned degrees from Tulsa Community College and Northeastern State University before obtaining a law degree and a master's degree from the University of Tulsa. He operates a human resources consulting firm.
Allen is a life-long Tulsan. He is an airline pilot.
U.S. House of Representatives
Salary: $174,000 base
Term: Two years
Total Oklahoma representatives: Five
Total number of U.S. representatives: 435
Longest-serving current Oklahoma House member: Frank Lucas, elected May 1994
Longest-serving current U.S. House member: Rep. John Dingel, D-Mich., elected December 1955
Term limits: None
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365