As pundits try to unravel what happened to Rep. John Sullivan, R-Okla., who shockingly lost his under-the-radar primary on Tuesday, it looks as if GOP nominee Jim Bridenstine ran a fairly conventional tea party-style challenge. He hit Sullivan from the right on spending and personal responsibility, and the 1st District incumbent didn't seem to take the challenge seriously enough to avoid a loss.
But not every part of a campaign fits into those neat archetypes; Daily Kos Elections digs into Bridenstine's fundraising and details where the challenger got a healthy chunk of his money.
Sullivan cosponsored a bill last year that upset optometrists and favored ophthalmologists. Daily Kos reports that 66 optometrists ended up donating to Bridenstine, while the American Academy of Ophthalmology donated heavily to Sullivan.
Although Bridenstine was able to raise only $244,000 before the preprimary reporting deadline, that support played a critical role in allowing his campaign to get its message out against an incumbent. Anti-incumbency and conservative influence on primaries obviously played major roles here, but this is a reminder that multiple, often-esoteric factors play into campaigns against legislators.
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