Correction: This story originally misidentified Silk's occupation in Broken Bow. The story has been corrected.
A state lawmaker put out with what he called the Oklahoma Legislature’s “very liberal” leadership said Thursday that he’s running for Congress instead of re-election.
State Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow, said he will enter the 2020 Republican primary in the 2nd District against four-term incumbent Markwayne Mullin.
“One of the things conservatives want to see, here and nationwide, is for (members of Congress) to go up there and actually do something,” Silk, a Broken Bow property manager, said in a phone conversation.
Silk said Republican lawmakers “haven’t rattled the cage on these ideas. … From what I hear Markwayne Mullin falls into that category.”
Mullin, who was criticized last year for seeking a fourth term after pledging not to, hasn’t formally announced reelection plans, but his chief of staff, Mike Stopp, said that is Mullin’s intention. Mullin figures to have a big financial and name recognition advantage on Silk.
A Westville plumbing company owner and rancher, Mullin emerged from a crowded GOP primary in 2012 to win the vacant District 2 seat. He’s easily won reelection three times since.
In a written statement announcing his candidacy, Silk said he decided to leave the Legislature because of its “very liberal” leadership.
“I have come to the conclusion my energy and efforts will be best … utilized elsewhere,” Silk said in the statement.
In the telephone conversation, Silk said that “the makeup of the state Senate is very moderate” and that while he expects “conservative, constitutional” Republicans to eventually win the upper hand, he would likely be term-limited by then.
During his five years in the Senate, Silk has been known for his hard-line positions on abortion, guns and taxes. Those positions have often put him at odds with the leadership of his own party.