Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has a recommendation for conservative outside groups getting involved in the special election for outgoing Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) Senate seat: don’t bother.
“Groups coming from outside the state, coming to try and set the agenda, sorry,” Cole said in an interview with Roll Call on Tuesday. “You are welcome to come, but you ought to look at your track record.”
Two such groups, The Madison Project and the Senate Conservatives Fund, have strongly urged Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to run for Coburn’s seat. Those groups have also indicated that Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), who is running to succeed Coburn, is not sufficiently conservative.
Cole himself had been mentioned as a possible candidate as well but, as a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), the deputy House majority whip was almost assured to not get the support of these outside groups.
Cole noted that another conservative outside group, the Club for Growth, supported former state Rep. Kevin Calvey (R) in two different primaries for the 5th Congressional District. Calvey lost the first primary in 2006 to now-Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and the second one to Lankford in 2010.
“Was Mary Fallin really a dangerous liberal?” Cole said. “Was Jim Lankford really a bad choice? I think not.”