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Republican

Rep. Tom Cole (R)

Tom Cole Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-225-6165

Address: 2458 RHOB, DC 20515

Websites: cole.house.gov
State Office Contact Information

Phone: (405) 329-6500

Address: 2424 Springer Drive, Norman OK 73069-3966

Ada OK

Phone: (580) 436-5375

Fax: (580) 436-5451

Address: 100 East 13th Street, Box 13, Ada OK 74820-6502

Lawton OK

Phone: (580) 357-2131

Fax: (580) 357-7477

Address: 711 SW D Avenue, Lawton OK 73501-4561

Tom Cole Staff
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Legislative Correspondent
Bowie, Maria
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Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
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Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
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Edwards, Stratton
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Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
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Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Corley, Sarah
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Davis, Teresa
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Edwards, Stratton
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Grogis, Josh
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Head, Lisa
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Norrie, Elizabeth
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Savage, Amber
Field Representative
Waskiewicz, Steve
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Homer, Debe
Lawton Office Manager; Caseworker
Murphy, Sean
Chief of Staff
Corley, Sarah
Communications Director
Head, Lisa
Constituent Services
Edwards, Stratton
Legislative Counsel
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Grogis, Josh
District Director
Parker, Sabrina
Executive Assistant; Scheduler
Waskiewicz, Steve
Senior Legislative Assistant
Morgan, Mary
Legislative Correspondent
Bowie, Maria
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director
Homer, Debe
Lawton Office Manager; Caseworker
Peters, Jeff
Field Representative
Roberts, Will
Field Representative
Savage, Amber
Field Representative
Norrie, Elizabeth
District Scheduler
Parker, Sabrina
Executive Assistant; Scheduler
Davis, Teresa
Staff Assistant
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Tom Cole Committees
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Tom Cole Biography
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  • Elected: 2002, 6th term.
  • District: Oklahoma 4
  • Born: Apr. 28, 1949, Shreveport, LA
  • Home: Moore
  • Education:

    Grinnell Col., B.A. 1971, Yale U., M.A. 1974, U. of OK, Ph.D. 1984

  • Professional Career:

    OK GOP Chmn., 1985-89; Exec. dir. NRCC, 1991-95; OK secy. of state, 1995-99; Pol. consultant, 2000-2002.

  • Political Career:

    OK Senate, 1988-91.

  • Ethnicity: Indian/Native American
  • Religion:

    Methodist

  • Family: Married (Ellen); 1 children

Tom Cole, first elected in 2002, is a politically savvy Republican who is a frequent source for reporters seeking to understand the GOP’s inner workings. After a falling-out with then-Minority Leader John Boehner over Cole’s rocky stewardship of the National Republican Congressional Committee, he has again become a key Boehner ally. Read More

Tom Cole, first elected in 2002, is a politically savvy Republican who is a frequent source for reporters seeking to understand the GOP’s inner workings. After a falling-out with then-Minority Leader John Boehner over Cole’s rocky stewardship of the National Republican Congressional Committee, he has again become a key Boehner ally.

Cole grew up in Moore, south of Oklahoma City. He is a fifth-generation Oklahoman, and his mother was a state representative and senator. He’s also a member of the Chickasaw Nation tribe; more than half of the nation’s Chickasaw Indians live in the district. With the retirement of Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado in 2004, Cole became the only American Indian in Congress until 2013, when his Oklahoma GOP colleague Markwayne Mullin joined him in the House. Cole’s father served in the Air Force and later worked at Tinker Air Force Base. Cole graduated from Grinnell College, got a master’s degree at Yale University, and a Ph.D. in British history at the University of Oklahoma, studying for a year at the University of London. From 1985 to 1989, he was the Oklahoma Republican Party chairman. In 1988, he was elected to the state Senate.

He moved to Washington in 1991 to become executive director of the NRCC, and over the next few years, held jobs as the chief of staff for the Republican National Committee in the 2000 election, the appointed Oklahoma secretary of state, and the president of a polling and political consulting firm in Oklahoma City.

In 2002, when Rep. J.C. Watts announced that he would not seek reelection, Cole moved quickly to run. Despite his party connections and an endorsement from Watts, he faced formidable opposition from attorney Marc Nuttle. The two shared positions on most issues and extensive party connections. Nuttle had been Cole’s predecessor at the NRCC, and had worked on Republican Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign. Nuttle and Cole also had worked together to pass an Oklahoma right-to-work law in a 2001 referendum. But in the showdown between the strategists, Cole won 60%-33%.

In the general election, he had tough competition from former state Senate Majority Leader Darryl Roberts, whoappealed to the “yellow dog” Democratic tradition that is particularly strong in the Red River counties. Cole countered by linking Roberts to all of the past Democratic presidential nominees he had supported, and described him as “pro-tax, pro-abortion, and pro-lawsuit.” Cole won 54%-46%, and has been reelected with ease ever since.

In the House, Cole has a mostly conservative voting record, though in the 112th Congress (2011-12) he was the least-conservative Republican in the Oklahoma delegation, according to National Journal’s rankings. He is a member of the GOP whip team and sits on the Republican Steering Committee, which makes committee assignments. And in a sign of his increasing value to Boehner, he returned in 2013 to the leadership-driven Rules Committee, a panel on which he had previously served. “He doesn’t play coy and he has good relationships on both sides of the aisle,” University of Oklahoma political science professor Keith Gaddie told Oklahoma City’s Journal Record Legislative Report. Colleagues also value his understanding of politics. “He’s an excellent political mechanic—one of the best,” Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe told The Oklahoman. “I never question his wisdom when he says something out of the norm.”

Cole differs from his younger conservative colleagues in being generally supportive of government spending. From his plum seat on the Appropriations Committee, he tends to the needs of his district’s military installations and supports federal programs that help his constituents. Among them is the Education Department’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), which helps disadvantaged students prepare for college and which Cole said has served more than 31,000 Oklahoma students. He warned in March 2011 that a government shutdown could “cause panic” in the financial markets. And during the late 2012 negotiations over tax and spending to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” he urged his party to accept a tax-cut extension for all but the wealthiest Americans, a position that several Republicans subsequently adopted, leading to the bill’s passage.

In the fall of 2013, he took on an expanded role in critical budget talks between Republicans who controlled the House and President Barack Obama and Democrats who were in the majority in the Senate. Cole was one of four Republicans appointed by Boehner to a conference committee charged with hammering out a deal aimed at ending the partisan brinkmanship that had led to a 16-day government shutdown earlier in the year. The Republican brand had been badly damaged by the shutdown, which the public largely blamed on the House GOP. Moreover, several preceding battles over taxes and spending had resulted in automatic, across-the-board cuts and had threatened the nation's credit rating -- all of which helped produce historic lows in public confidence in the federal government.   

Cole was known as an able conciliator trusted by mainstream Republicans and conservative enough to maintain credibility with the impulsive and restive tea party faction of the caucus. A profile on the Politico website in October 2013 likened him to "the friendly uncle sent out to smoke a cigar and explain to the neighbors what all the noise is about in the basement," and called him "an important arbiter in upcoming budget talks." That was especially the case given that the lead GOP negotiator by title -- Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin -- was considered a future presidential hopeful and so unlikely to push the right wing too hard for a deal.

Cole began his House career on the Armed Services Committee, a seat of obvious importance to the district, before leaving the panel in 2005 to serve on Rules, which launched him on a career in leadership. He has been actively involved in issues related to American Indians. The House in 2012 took up his bill to help foreign businesses invest in Indian tribes, but it did not achieve the two-thirds majority required to get on a fast-track for passage. In the wake of an influence-peddling scandal involving Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who represented several tribes, Cole strongly opposed the proposed limits on the right of tribes to contribute to political campaigns.

Following the dismal 2006 election for Republicans, Cole was elected by his peers to be chairman of the NRCC, the fifth-ranking GOP leadership job and one that put him in charge of national Republican efforts to regain the party’s majority in the House in 2008. Cole defeated Texan Pete Sessions, 102 to 81, to take over the committee, where he’d cut his teeth as a political strategist years before. He expanded the playing field of competitive seats, but his two-year chairmanship overall was dismal. The party had had a rough transition to the minority after a dozen years in control, the committee was $19 million in debt, and there were an inordinate number of GOP retirements. Cole and the Republicans raised $116 million for 2008 contests, compared to $171 million for the Democrats.On top of all that, the committee had internal problems, notably the discovery that its longtime treasurer had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars. But the biggest obstacle was largely out of Cole’s control: President George W. Bush’s low public approval ratings, which made reelection an uphill climb for most Republicans. The party lost rather than gained seats in the House, winding up at a 257-178 disadvantage.

In that period, the relationship between Cole and Boehner deteriorated, with public sniping and second-guessing over who was to blame for the party’s electoral failure. Boehner believed that Cole’s top staffers at the NRCC were not sufficiently aggressive at fundraising and candidate recruitment, and created an advisory group to look over Cole’s shoulder at the committee. (The two had started out with a cool relationship—Cole had publicly backed Republican Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri over Boehner in the bitterly contested race for majority leader in 2006.)

Nevertheless, after the election, Cole decided to seek reelection to another two years as NRCC chairman. Once again, Sessions was seeking the post, with the active support of Boehner. Sensing he could well lose the showdown this time when the decision went to a vote by all House Republicans, Cole withdrew. In a gesture of conciliation, Boehner gave Cole a seat on Appropriations in 2009. And Cole subsequently worked himself back into Boehner’s good graces through voracious fundraising.

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Tom Cole Election Results
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2012 General
Tom Cole (R)
Votes: 176,740
Percent: 67.89%
Donna Marie Bebo (D)
Votes: 71,846
Percent: 27.6%
RJ Harris (I)
Votes: 11,745
Percent: 4.51%
2012 Primary
Tom Cole (R)
Votes: 22,840
Percent: 87.73%
Gary Caissie (R)
Votes: 3,195
Percent: 12.27%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (unopposed), 2008 (66%), 2006 (65%), 2004 (78%), 2002 (54%)
Tom Cole Votes and Bills
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National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic 50 (L) : 49 (C) 38 (L) : 60 (C) 36 (L) : 63 (C)
Social 43 (L) : 54 (C) 36 (L) : 62 (C) 39 (L) : 58 (C)
Foreign 40 (L) : 59 (C) 35 (L) : 59 (C) 52 (L) : 47 (C)
Composite 45.2 (L) : 54.8 (C) 38.0 (L) : 62.0 (C) 43.2 (L) : 56.8 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC90100
LCV96
CFG5365
ITIC-100
NTU6966
20112012
COC100-
ACLU-0
ACU8072
ADA00
AFSCME0-
Key House Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • Pass GOP budget
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Extend payroll tax cut
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Find AG in contempt
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Stop student loan hike
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Repeal health care
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass cut, cap, balance
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Defund Planned Parenthood
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Repeal lightbulb ban
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Add endangered listings
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Speed troop withdrawal
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop detainee transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Limit campaign funds
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $820 billion stimulus
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Let guns in national parks
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass cap-and-trade
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar federal abortion funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Repeal D.C. gun law
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase minimum wage
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote:
    • Year: 2007
    • Share immigration data
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Foreign aid abortion ban
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Ban gay bias in workplace
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 8/08
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • No operations in Iran
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Free trade with Peru
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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