Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, has decided not to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee.
Despite Cole’s long resume – he helped build the modern Republican Party in Oklahoma and ran Coburn’s first campaign for the U.S. House in 1994, along with that of former Gov. Frank Keating, former Rep. J.C. Watts and many others who ran that momentous year for the GOP – he might have struggled in the primary because much of the Republican electorate has moved to the right of him.
Cole is rapidly gaining influence on the House Appropriations Committee, which is relevant again after the recent budget agreement. He is also a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.
Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, is expected to announce as early as Monday that he’s going to give up his House seat to run for the Senate. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, is seriously considering the race. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt also announced Sunday that he won’t enter the race to replace Coburn.
Here is Cole’s statement:
“Since Senator Tom Coburn announced last week that he will retire before the end of his second term, there has been a great deal of speculation about which Republicans might run for the seat. I am very flattered to be among those mentioned, as any Oklahoma Republican would be honored to succeed someone as distinguished as Tom Coburn.
“After considerable thought, however, I have decided not to run for the U.S. Senate in 2014. My seniority, my membership on three major committees, my position as a subcommittee chairman on the Appropriations Committee and my role as a Deputy Whip in the Republican Conference make me much more valuable to Oklahoma and the Fourth District in the House than I could be as a freshman U.S. Senator.
“I am certain that many worthy Republicans will seek Senator Coburn’s seat. In the days ahead, I look forward helping nominate and elect another well-qualified conservative, who will represent Oklahoma in the United States Senate with the same integrity and distinction that Senator Coburn has exhibited throughout his illustrious career.”