Tom Cole, House GOP Spending Chief, Defeats Challenger in Oklahoma Primary

Representative Tom Cole, the veteran Oklahoma Republican and chairman of the highly effective Appropriations Committee, fended off a major problem on Tuesday from a well-funded right-wing businessman, placing him on monitor to win a 12th time period.

Mr. Cole, who was first elected to Congress in 2002, has lengthy been a fixture of Oklahoma politics and an influential legislative voice behind the scenes in Congress. The Associated Press known as the race lower than an hour after polls closed as Mr. Cole led by an amazing margin.

Mr. Cole ascended to the helm of the influential Appropriations panel in April, assuming a coveted place on Capitol Hill that put him in cost of the allocation of federal spending. Top members of the committee can steer federal {dollars} not simply throughout the federal government, but in addition to their very own districts.

But because the G.O.P. has veered to the correct in current years and turn out to be more and more doctrinaire about slashing federal spending, the Appropriations gavel has morphed right into a political legal responsibility for Republicans. Mr. Cole’s opponent, Paul Bondar, an anti-spending conservative businessman, tried to weaponize the congressman’s 15-year tenure on the committee in opposition to him. Mr. Bondar argued that Mr. Cole’s time on Capitol Hill had left him out of contact along with his district, and attacked his voting report as insufficiently conservative.

“Tom Cole voted with Democrats for billions in new deficit spending,” a narrator on a tv commercial mentioned. “Paul Bondar opposes new federal spending.”

Early on, Mr. Bondar dedicated to pouring massive quantities of his private wealth into the race. With greater than $8 million spent as of late final week, it turned one of the vital costly House primaries this yr — and essentially the most aggressive major problem Mr. Cole had confronted in years.

“It’s like an old-fashioned bar fight,” Mr. Cole told Roll Call. “The guy who wins a bar fight isn’t the guy with the most money; it’s the guy with the most friends. And I have a lot of friends in that district.”

Mr. Cole’s predecessor on the committee, Representative Kay Granger of Texas, additionally confronted a well-funded major problem when she led the panel, and likewise was ready to make use of her stature in the district to defeat it simply.

In the tip, Mr. Cole’s standing as a political veteran in the district, in addition to Mr. Bondar’s personal political foibles — chief amongst them his current transfer into the state from Texas — allowed him to prevail. A halting interview Mr. Bondar gave to an area tv reporter in which he confessed to dialing in to the decision from Texas was extensively circulated in the district.

“Can’t find his way around the district without a map,” Mr. Cole mentioned of his opponent in an interview earlier this month. “It’s not like I’m an unknown quantity. My family’s lived in this district 175 years on my mom’s side and 140 on my father’s side.”

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