WASHINGTON — Rep. John Sullivan became the first Oklahoma congressman ousted in 18 years on Tuesday, as political newcomer Jim Bridenstine staged a Republican primary upset in the Tulsa-area district Sullivan has represented for a decade.
Bridenstine, a U.S. Navy Reserve pilot, led throughout the night and beat Sullivan with 53 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results from the Oklahoma Election Board. Sullivan has consistently fended off primary and general election challenges, but Bridenstine mounted a hard-hitting campaign and, though outspent by Sullivan, had the resources to get his message across.
Bridenstine sought to portray Sullivan as part of the problem in Washington, while Sullivan defended himself as a conservative who has fought the Obama administration.
The late Mike Synar, a Muskogee Democrat, was the last incumbent Oklahoma congressman to lose his seat to a challenger. Synar lost in a run-off primary in 1994.