Jim Bridenstine, Markwayne Mullin capture U.S. House seats
BY Staff Reports
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
11/06/12 at 10:02 PM
Republican political newcomers Jim Bridenstine and Markwayne Mullin are headed to Washington, D.C.
Bridenstine easily defeated Democrat John Olson and independent Craig Allen to secure Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District for the GOP. The U.S. House seat, which includes a large swath of northeastern Oklahoma and includes the city of Tulsa, has been in Republican hands since 1986.
In Oklahoma's Congressional District 2, Mullin won by a wide margin over Democrat Rob Wallace. Independent Michael Fulks was a very distant third.
With 456 of 530 precincts reporting, Mullin had 57 percent of the vote to 39 percent for Wallace.
The contest was the most hotly contested of Oklahoma’s congressional races, with both candidates spending well in excess of $1 million.
The 2nd District had been held by Democrats since 2000, but came open this year with the retirement of Dan Boren. Republican Tom Coburn, now a U.S. senator, held the seat from 1994 to 2000.
The wins by Bridenstine and Mullin completed a Republican sweep of all five U.S. House seats, and none of the races were close.
In District 3, Frank Lucas had claimed 75.8 percent of the vote with 96 percent of the precincts reporting. Democrat Timothy Murray had 19.4 percent of the vote and Independent William Sanders had 4.7 percent.
In District 4, Tom Cole had 68.2 percent of the vote with 82 percent of precincts reporting. Democrat Donna Marie Bebo had 27.4 percent and Independent R.J. Harris had 4.4 percent.
In District 5, James Lankford had 57.9 percent of the vote with 79 percent of precincts reporting. Democrat Tom Guild had 38 percent while Independents Pat Martin and Robert Murphy shared 2 percent each.
Bridenstine, a Navy pilot who had backing from several national tea party organizations, campaigned on a platform that knocked his Republican predecessor’s votes as not being conservative enough for many Oklahomans.
Perhaps his most difficult feat was already accomplished months earlier, when he knocked off five-term incumbent Rep. John Sullivan in the Republican primary in June.
Until Bridenstine’s convincing win, Sullivan had enjoyed comfortable margins of victory against past challengers.
But as the primary election drew closer, Bridenstine unleashed a blistering attack on Sullivan’s past battle with alcoholism, his hundreds of missed votes in the House and a series of arrests dating to more than two decades ago. At the time, Sullivan called those political cheap shots.
Martha West, 63, who works in human resources, said she cast a ballot for Bridenstine but that choosing him over Olson was difficult. West said both are military veterans but that she believes Bridenstine is more conservative.
“There really wasn’t much that separated the two,” West said.
For Olson’s part, he ran on a message that alleged Bridenstine would be no better in office than the man he would be replacing. But an Olson defeat seemed all but inevitable after Bridenstine cleared that primary hurdle, some political scholars and state pollsters said.
Independent candidate Craig Allen, who ran a shoestring campaign and kept the lowest profile of the three candidates, tried to convey a message to voters that he would be different than his two opponents because he wouldn’t be beholden to special interests.
In an interview with The Associated Press the day after he won the Republican primary, Bridenstine said there was no strategy to bring up Sullivan’s character as a major campaign issue, but once he did, the theme resonated with average voters.
“There was no elaborate plan, there was just a picture of the things we thought were important and let the voters decide,” he told AP in June. “There were no high-dollar campaign consultants, no national firms helping with radio and TV buys. It was just two guys in a suit trying to make up the process as we go along.”
Markwayne Mullin, with his son Andrew, is welcomed as the new District 2 Congressman by former Oklahoma House Speaker Todd Hiett. MICHAEL WYKE/Tulsa World
Jim Bridenstine shares a kiss with his wife, Michelle, after giving his victory speech at the Republican watch party at Cityplex Towers on Tuesday night. She is holding Grant, 8 months, and he is holding Sarah, 4, while Walker, 6, stands in front. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Jim Bridenstine receives congratulations from supporter Cassie Wilborn at the Republican watch party at Cityplex Towers. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Jim Bridenstine gives his victory speech at the Republican watch party at Cityplex Towers on Tuesday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World