Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., lost his 1st District Republican primary Tuesday night to a challenger, Navy Reserve pilot Jim Bridenstine, who came at the incumbent from the right.
The Associated Press called the race early Wednesday morning. With 89 percent of precincts reporting, Bridenstine led Sullivan 53 to 47 percent.
Sullivan recognized Bridenstine's challenge early on and aired a series of memorable television ads where a narrator said the "tenacious, tough" congressman would "get in your face if you're wrong, even the president's face." By the beginning of June, Sullivan had opened a massive spending advantage over his challenger: over $760,000 to under $200,000 spent by Bridenstine.
But Bridenstine hit the incumbent on a trifecta of conservative issues. He said the incumbent hadn't done enough to rein in federal spending or assert himself on behalf of the district in Washington; he hit Sullivan for personal failings (the congressman was treated for alcoholism in 2009); and he criticized Sullivan's record of missed votes.
Sullivan is the eighth incumbent to lose a primary this cycle. Four representatives have lost member-against-member primaries forced by redistricting, and another three -- Reps. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, Tim Holden, D-Pa., and Silvestre Reyes, R-Texas -- lost to challengers.
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