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Sullivan, Bridenstine Didn't See Eye-To-Eye in Oklahoma Sullivan, Bridenstine Didn't See Eye-To-Eye in Oklahoma

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Politics

Sullivan, Bridenstine Didn't See Eye-To-Eye in Oklahoma

June 28, 2012

As we try to unravel what happened to Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., who shockingly lost his under-the-radar 1st District primary on Tuesday, it looks like GOP nominee Jim Bridenstine ran a fairly conventional tea party-style challenge. He hit Sullivan from the right on spending and personal responsibility, and the incumbent didn't seem to take the challenge seriously enough to avoid a loss.

But not every part of a campaign fits into those neat archetypes, and Daily Kos Elections has an interesting find on Bridenstine's fundraising detailing where the challenger got a healthy chunk of his money from. Daily Kos Elections:

It turns out that Sullivan co-sponsored a bill in 2011 (the "Healthcare Truth and Transparency Act") that rankled the interests of optometrists (who do not have medical degrees), while favoring ophthalmologists (who are M.D.s). Sullivan's primary race became something of an inter-professional turf war, with some 66 optometrists cutting checks to Bridenstine's campaign, totaling $30K, with an additional $5K thrown in by the American Optometric Association itself. And as we outlined above, the American Academy of Ophthalmologists responded with mid-five figures in spending on Sullivan's behalf.

Bridenstine only raised $244,000 before the pre-primary reporting deadline, so that support played a critical role in financing his campaign enough to get his message out against an incumbent. Anti-incumbency and conservative influence on primaries obviously played major roles here, but this is a reminder that multiple, often-esoteric factors play into campaigns against sitting legislators.

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