WASHINGTON — Republican Markwayne Mullin easily won the eastern Oklahoma seat in the U.S. House on Tuesday, and the state's congressional delegation will be all Republican for the first time since 2000.
With nearly all of the precincts reporting, Mullin had 57 percent of the vote. Democrat Rob Wallace had 38 percent, and independent Michael G. Fulks had 4 percent.
Mullin, of Westville, and Wallace, of Fort Gibson, were battling for the seat being vacated by Rep. Dan Boren, the only Democrat in the state's seven-person contingent in Washington.
The 26-county district is heavily Democratic in registration, but Mullin had a couple of major advantages: President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in the district, is at the top of the ticket, and Mullin entered the race with high name recognition from years of ads about his plumbing company.
Mullin, a political novice, avoided debates and the nuances of public policy in his anti-Washington campaign. After winning the nomination in August, he got financial help from House Republicans across the country.
Wallace, a former federal and state prosecutor, received no help from the national Democratic Party but still raised more than $1 million for a campaign that seemed almost bereft of national issues such as Medicare and tax policy.
"We were consistent,'' Mullin said Tuesday night. “We didn't get distracted by any other campaign. We stayed focused on what we wanted to talk about. When we got in the race, we said we wouldn't let anybody else outwork us, and we didn't.”
Mullin said voters were attracted to his message of “getting the government out of the way.”
In Tulsa, tea party-backed Republican Jim Bridenstine, who ousted Rep. John Sullivan in the primary, easily defeated Democrat John Olson to keep the seat in Republican hands. Bridenstine, a U.S. Navy Reserve pilot, has pledged to limit himself to three terms.
Olson, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan who now runs a consulting company, has drawn strong financial support for a Democrat in the 1st District and earned the endorsement of the Tulsa World newspaper. But he faced tough odds in a district that hasn't elected a Democrat to the U.S. House since 1984.
With about 80 percent of the precincts reporting, Bridenstine had 64 percent, Olson had 32 percent, and independent Craig Allen had 4 percent.