(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. John Sullivan unexpectedly lost the GOP primary Tuesday night to U.S. Navy Reserve pilot Jim Bridenstine, a political newcomer who has tea party support.
The five-term Congressman trailed Bridenstine 46 percent to 54 percent, with 94 percent of precincts reporting at 12:30 a.m., when the Associated Press called the race. Sullivan, who was first elected to Congress in a 2002 special election, vastly outspent his challenger, the former executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.
During the campaign, Bridenstine attacked Sullivan as an out-of-touch politician and for his lackluster attendance record in Congress, saying he missed 9 percent of votes, according to local reports. Sullivan acknowledged he has missed votes because of his battle with alcoholism, for which he checked himself into a rehabilitation center in 2009.
“I’ve never had a race like this in all my life,” Sullivan told the Associated Press a few days ago. “The only mistake I made was I ignored it for too long.”
The 1st district, which includes Tulsa, is a solid GOP seat that only incurred minimal changes in redistricting. The district voted for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) with 64 percent in 2008. Bridenstine will be the next Member representing this seat in all likelihood.
Sullivan is the eighth House Member to lose a primary this cycle, although four of those have lost to another Member in a race created by redistricting. To see who else isn’t returning to the 113th Congress, check out our Casualty List.