U.S. Rep. Bridenstine, who is seeking a third and final term in Congress, faces a well-financed opponent who is trying to make a case that he is also a conservative.
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin also has drawn a Republican primary opponent.
Bridenstine faces fellow Republicans Tom Atkinson and Evelyn Rogers in the June 28 primary.
When he ran for office in 2012, Bridenstine said he would be a “citizen legislator” and only serve three two-year terms. He is a proponent of term limits for Congress.
Bridenstine is a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He flew the E-2C Hawkeye as a Navy pilot of the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier (1,900 flight hours and 333 carrier arrested landings). After combat, he flew the F-18 Hornet at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, the parent command to TOPGUN.
After nine active years in the Navy, he returned to Tulsa and became executive director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.
Bridenstine was promoted to lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve in 2010 and flew missions in America’s war on drugs in Central and South America.
Bridenstine graduated from Jenks High School and went to Rice University on a swimming scholarship. He has an MBA from Cornell University.
In Congress, Bridenstine is on the House Armed Services Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee, where he was chosen as chairman of the House Environment Subcommittee.
Bridenstine and his family attend South Tulsa Baptist Church.
In Congress, Bridenstine voted against debt ceiling hikes, continuing budget resolutions, omnibus spending packages and other attempts to grow the deficit and the national debt.
Bridenstine was an outspoken opponent to President Obama’s deal with Iran that gave that country permission to build weapons.
Bridenstine has fought to rebuild the military and worked to reform the Veterans Administration. He battled the EPA and its job-killing tactics and was a cosponsor of the Fair Tax.
Bridenstine has defended the Second Amendment right to bear arms and has opposed the attacks on religious freedoms.
He has called on Congress to use “the power of the purse” to rein in the power of a “liberal, activist president.”
Bridenstine has been endorsed by former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, the Family Research Council, Gun Owners of America, OK2A, Combat Vets for Congress and the Tulsa Beacon.
“My approach and ultimately my vote on any proposed legislation is determined by answering these four core questions: Is it right per my Judeo-Christian values?; Is it constitutional per the original intent of the Constitution?; Do we need it?; And can we afford it?” Bridenstine wrote on his website.
Atkinson has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to convince voters that he is a conservative. But that portrayal has been challenged by Daniel Horowitz in an article for www.conservativereview.com on April 28.
The headline for that article reads, “Boehner Ally Plans to Spend $1 Million to Torpedo Conservative Rep. Bridenstine.” John Boehner is the former Speaker of the House that Bridenstine refused to vote for.
Horowitz argues that opponents of presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz have targeted Bridenstine because of his support for Cruz and his adherence to the conservative GOP platform.
“The same players who detest Ted Cruz have now recruited a straw man RINO to run against Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Oklahoma, one of the most intrepid conservatives in the House of Representatives,” Horowitz wrote.
Horowitz wrote that Atkinson has pledged to spend up to $1 of his own money to defeat Bridenstine.
“Well, who is Tom Atkinson? He is the quintessential wealthy trans-ideological Republican,” Horowitz wrote. “He donated to a liberal Democrat, Kathy Taylor, who ran against the Republican mayor of Tulsa. That Republican mayor, Dewey Bartlett, is Tom Atkinson’s own brother-in-law. Atkinson has tapped Shane Saunders, a former aide to John Sullivan, the RINO Bridenstine defeated in 2012 who was known to be close with Boehner as well.”
Atkinson was an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He was a federal prosecutor in the Department of Justice and a bankruptcy judge for the Northern District of Oklahoma.
In 1985, Atkinson founded Okie Crude Company, an energy firm based in Tulsa, where he still serves as president. Atkinson has a bachelor of business administration from Southern Methodist University and a law degree from Oklahoma City University. Tom and his wife, Joanie, have two children and two grandchildren. They are members of First Presbyterian Church in downtown Tulsa.
According to his website, he opposes the federal intrusion into public education and supports the “homeschool community.” He is against Common Core.
Atkinson is against Islamic terrorism and wants to cut off the supply of oil that finances ISIS.
He wants to promote quality jobs in Oklahoma. He is for simplification of the U.S. tax code and reform of the corporate tax code.
Atkinson wants to “rein in the job-killing EPA and IRS…” He supports the right to bear arms and is a lifetime member of the NRA. He wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with free market policies and expanded health savings accounts.
Atkinson signed the Grover Norquist-backed Taxpayer Protection Pledge. He wants to secure the southern border of the United States.
“Nearly half the illegal immigrants in this country came legally and just never went home,” he wrote on his website. “Our visa system is broken, and we need real reforms to ensure that those that come here on a short term visa leave when they are supposed to.”
He said he is pro-life and will defund Planned Parenthood.