WASHINGTON — Markwayne Mullin said he went to college for one reason — to wrestle.
After he got injured, he returned home to Adair County without finishing his degree and got married. Looking for work, he decided to take over a plumbing business his father had started.
It was a company of six, Mullin said, with $500,000 of debt — $250,000 of it past due.
“My immediate goal was to get out of debt and survive,'' he said. “We got out of debt in 2001.”
Mullin, 35, said it is now the largest plumbing service company in the state.
His company ads and his fleet of service vehicles with his name on the side have given him considerable name recognition in the district he hopes to capture on Nov. 6.
If he wins, he would be the first Oklahoman to serve in Congress since 1980 without a college degree, but he would also be the second wealthiest in the state's delegation — behind Sen. Jim Inhofe.
The conservative Republican said he decided to run because he was tired of regulations on small business and political gridlock in Washington. A political novice, he has stumbled sometimes in his remarks about government programs. But he knows what he wants to do about most of them — cut them.
He criticized the House Republican budget for not going far enough to cut federal spending.
“It's not a budget that we can operate on as a business,” he said. “I would like to see a true balanced budget.”
Mullin did not endorse the Republican budget's proposal to reshape the Medicare program by giving future recipients — those 55 and younger — money to buy their own insurance. He did say he preferred the revised proposal that would allow seniors to buy the traditional government coverage or private insurance.
“I had some questions about it, but it is better than doing nothing,'' he said.
Mullin is seeking to represent a district with pockets of severe poverty — the kind of areas that often rely heavily on government aid.
“I don't mind helping people,'' Mullin said. “But it doesn't make sense to give the shirt off your back if you're borrowing it from other people.”
Mullin filed a financial disclosure form with the clerk of the House of Representatives that showed assets valued between $2.14 million to $7.69 million and no debts.
Mullin's report covered calendar year 2011 and showed:
Major assets: Mullin Properties; Mullin Plumbing Inc., Mullin Environmental; Mullin Plumbing West; Mullin Plumbing New Construction; bank accounts, stock investments and retirement funds.
Income: Mullin reported a salary of $77,400 from Mullin Plumbing Inc. He reported income between $305,000 and $2.2 million from his companies and investments.