The Norman Transcript

State/Region

January 5, 2013

House freshmen buck trendNew lawmakers march to own drum, not party leadership’s

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

And despite votes against the Hurricane Sandy aid, Cole downplayed any suggestion that the two freshmen weren’t considered “team players.”

“They’ll be evaluated over time by their colleagues and their constituents, and I have no doubt they’re able to defend their votes and explain their positions,” Cole said.

Bridenstine and Mullin both said the country shouldn’t spend money it doesn’t have to extend additional disaster aid.

Amanda Winton, who lives in Tulsa, said she would give Bridenstine “the benefit of the doubt” as a freshman legislator, but said she fears that because of Oklahoma’s tumultuous weather, the state will one day find itself in need.

“Oklahoma has seen many, many disasters and we know what it’s like to rebuild. This is a place where government is helpful and necessary,” said Winton, 32. “We’re going to need that help (again). There’s no question.”

Mike Sperry, a teacher in Mullin’s district from Jay, said he fears his new congressman was voting with his wallet instead of his heart.

“Where did Christ say worry about your pocketbook more than your neighbor? Maybe I’m reading a different Bible,” said Sperry, 50. “We should treat others as we would want to be treated ourselves. What kind of example are you setting? Forget ideology and do what’s right for the country.”

Bridenstine’s spokeswoman, Sheryl Kaufman, said the new congressman’s votes follow a principle on which he campaigned — that Republicans need new leadership. Losing seats in the House and failing to take the White House and the Senate were part of the problems, she said.

“It’s the sort of thing where, as Jim put it, if this were football, we’d be looking for a new coach,” she said.

She said Bridenstine was not aware of any political trouble ahead and that, “at this point, we’re just hoping the parties will rise above that and that there won’t be any backlash. He has been confirmed on the committees that he was announced for, and so far nothing bad.”

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