Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication

Gaylord News

‘A bar fight’: Preview of Oklahoma Congressional Republican primary

Paul Bondar (left) will challenge incumbent Rep. Tom Cole (right) in Tuesday’s Republican primary election for OK-4. Madeline Hoffmann/Gaylord News

WASHINGTON – Tuesday marks the Oklahoma Republican primary election, with most eyes on the expensive race for the 4th Congressional District between incumbent Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and right-wing challenger Paul Bondar.

Tuesday’s primary could mark the most competitive vote for the 4th District since Cole’s election in 2002. Though Cole faces four GOP challengers, Bondar has made the biggest splash thus far with the amount of money he has spent.

Despite both candidates flooding television screens with negative campaign ads, Cole is confident that the primary will end in his favor.

“In the end, this is like a bar fight,” Cole said. “The guy with the most money doesn’t win, the guy with the most friends wins. I have a lot more friends than my opponent and I think it will show on Tuesday.”

According to Federal Election Commission filings, Bondar loaned more than $5.1 million of his own money to his campaign, with much of the money spent on campaign ads and mail processing.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters recently endorsed Bondar’s campaign, uniting on their support for the abolition of the Department of Education. Walters is the first notable endorsement of Bondar.

Oklahoma’s 4th District race is not only garnering heaps of funding from Bondar, but from Cole to match. Cole has received nearly $3.2 million in contributions from individuals and committees, donating no money of his own to the campaign.

A recent pro-Cole campaign ad from the Americans 4 Security PAC likens the primary to the University of Oklahoma Sooners and University of Texas Longhorns rivalry. The ad accuses Bondar of attempting to buy the congressional seat, and being “full of Texas bull.”

Originally from Wisconsin, Bondar worked as an insurance broker in Illinois before relocating to Texas. The incumbent’s campaign has brought into question whether Bondar actually lives in Oklahoma, compared to Cole who was born and raised in Moore.

“I’ve lived in the district my entire life, my family on one side for 175 years and the other for 140 years. We know the people, and we’re certainly known by the people,” Cole said.

Bondar only registered to vote in Oklahoma in early April, a day before filing to challenge Cole. His campaign filings list two addresses, one in Stonewall and in Norman, while also retaining property in Texas.

Bondar’s campaign has run its own advertisements attacking Cole for supporting “billions in new deficit spending.” The ads also push back on the Cole campaign, showing deeds to properties owned by Bondar in Oklahoma.

With three other GOP competitors against Bondar and Cole, there is potential for no candidate to receive a majority of the votes, resulting in a runoff election. A runoff would not occur until Aug. 27, forcing both candidates to spend even more money.

Alongside Cole, two of Oklahoma’s other Republican Congressional members are facing primary challengers.

Longtime U.S. Representative Frank Lucas (R-Cheynne) of Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District is facing two challengers: entrepreneur Robin Carder and satellite engineer Darren Hamilton.

The race for Oklahoma’s third district has not drawn as much of a spending campaign compared to Cole’s race, but Lucas has received close to $1.2 million from individuals and committees. However, neither Carder nor Hamilton near the amount raised by Lucas, their campaigns failing to surpass a combined 25 thousand dollars.

Oklahoma’s 3rd Congressional District is the state’s only district to face no Democratic challenger in November, guaranteeing the primary’s winner a seat in the House.

The final Congressperson on the ballot for Tuesday’s primary is U.S. Representative Kevin Hern (R-Tulsa), who will face Paul Royse in the race for Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District.

Both U.S. Representative Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City) and U.S. Representative Josh Brecheen (R-Coal County) are unopposed in the Republican primary, but they face Democratic challengers in November’s general election.


Gaylord News is a reporting project of the University of Oklahoma Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. For more stories by Gaylord News go to

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