The Oklahoman, David McDaniel, Associated Press
OKLAHOMA CITY — Navy pilot Jim Bridenstine defeated five-term incumbent John Sullivan on Tuesday to capture the Republican nomination in Oklahoma's 1st Congressional District.
Bridenstine, who had tea party backing, is a political newcomer who ran a campaign that attempted to paint Sullivan as a career politician who had grown out of touch with working-class Oklahomans.
With nearly all precincts reporting unofficial results, Bridenstine had 54 percent of the vote to Sullivan's 46 percent.
Despite a nearly four-to-one fundraising advantage over Bridenstine, Sullivan couldn't manage to fend off the pesky Bridenstine, who blasted the congressman for being a political insider and for his high absenteeism.
Sullivan said the issue of his missed votes was a thinly-veiled attack at his treatment for alcoholism in 2009 at the Betty Ford Center and for the death of his infant daughter in 2003.
"I like the idea of a new face representing the 1st District in D.C.," said Sarah Hummel, 27, a recent law school graduate who voted for Bridenstine.
But retiree Melvin Johnson, 94, said he voted for Sullivan two years ago and again Tuesday because he has "no complaints with the man."
In the race for the open 2nd Congressional District in eastern Oklahoma, both the Republican and Democratic primaries will be decided in an Aug. 28 runoff.
Plumbing company owner Markwayne Mullin and two-term Muskogee state Rep. George Faught will meet in the GOP primary runoff, while former state and federal prosecutor Rob Wallace and the owner of a Muskogee seed company, Wayne Herriman, will meet in the Democratic runoff.
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