MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Oklahoma News

June 16, 2014

Challenger brands Mullin a GOP turncoat

TULSA (AP) — U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin is facing a challenge in next week’s primary election from a professional bass fisherman who claims the Republican has not been conservative enough.

Darrel Robertson said Mullin was swept into office in 2012 thanks in part to a wave of support from the tea party but seemed to shy away from that support once he got to Washington.

Mullin and Robertson will square off June 24 in the GOP primary. Two Democrats and an independent also are running for the seat.

“A lot of people aren’t satisfied this time,” said Robertson, 64, of Jay. “The tea party helped get him elected in the first place, and his first vote to keep (U.S. Rep. John) Boehner as speaker, that really upset them. He fell in with the Republican leadership, just fell right into the tank.”

Robertson pledged to work to “shrink the size of the federal government” and reject special interests if elected. He acknowledged some of those themes were prevalent in Mullins’ 2012 campaign playbook.

“I sound like Markwayne did two years ago when he was campaigning,” he said.

Mullin, who owns a plumbing company, bristles at any suggestion he’s abandoned his conservative constituents.

“I bring conservative values to every approach I take,” the Westville resident said. “I don’t know where (Robertson’s) coming up with this. I’m a Christian man. I believe in the U.S. Constitution. I’m pro-life. The NRA has endorsed me. He’s running around accusing me of everything you can think of. Anybody can say what they want. That’s one of the hardest things (about politics).”

Mullin, 36, explained Monday that he voted to keep Boehner on as speaker because the only alternative was a Democrat, Nancy Pelosi. Mullin said that if he’s re-elected, he’ll develop legislation that reduces what he says is the overreach of the federal government and work across party lines.

“We’re here to represent the people of Oklahoma; we’re not here to represent just one party,” he said.

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