In the 2018 general election, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole kept his seat in Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District in a 30-point victory over Democrat Mary Brannon.
This year, he remains a favorite for re-election, but first he will have to square off against a pair of Republican hopefuls, facing a pharmacist and a middle school history teacher in today’s primary election.
Meanwhile, a trio of Democrats will battle it out for a chance to face the winner in November. Brannon is running again, and she’ll be competing with a metalworker and a life-long artist and activist for the party’s nomination.
The following information was derived from publicly available sources.
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R, incumbent)
Occupation: Congressman, co-founder of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates
Platform: Cole was first elected to Congress in 2003. He is the ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee and serves on the Appropriations Committee.
Before being elected to Congress, Cole was the chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, a member of the State Senate, and served as Oklahoma’s Secretary of state under Gov. Frank Keating. He is a member of the Chickasaw Nation, has a master’s degree from Yale and holds a doctorate in history from the University of Oklahoma.
Cole is a co-founder of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass & Associates, a research firm that, according to his website, “was at the forefront of Oklahoma’s transformation from a Democratic controlled Legislature to one of the most Republican in the nation.”
Cole’s campaign website emphasizes that he has worked to protect the state’s military installations from closure. He has also opposed the oil export ban, a fight he says has created jobs in Oklahoma. Cole opposes the Affordable Care Act and has voted against it 68 times. He also has worked to increase funding for health care of veterans. He opposes abortion rights. His full congressional record can be found here.
Trevor Sipes (R)
Town: Midwest City
Occupation: Pharmacy manager
Platform: Sipes’ campaign website says he aims to “bring a strong, outspoken conservative voice to the floor of the House.”
He supports President Donald Trump’s border wall and has said the country’s immigration system is in need of reform.
He opposes the Affordable Care Act and says his career as a pharmacy manager gives him insight into how to fix America’s health care system.
Sipes opposes common core in public schools and supports measures to curb abortion rights.
He lists his priority issues as national security, health care, education and abortion.
James Taylor (R)
Platform: Taylor is a history teacher at Roosevelt Middle School in Oklahoma City and serves as the pastor of Christ’s Church in Norman.
He is the author of the self-published book “It’s Biblical, Not Political,” which, according to his website, “guides Christian voters on how to vet political candidates to ensure they will follow the Constitution and the intent of our Founding Fathers to limit federal power while protecting the rights of the states and people respectively.”
Taylor believes in limited government and is pro-life, according to his website. He favors giving local school districts more independence from federal interference.
If elected, Taylor would work to craft legislation that would boost small businesses and curb corporate welfare. He also believes local agricultural producers should be protected and be free from burdens of federal regulation.
John Argo (D)
Platform: Not much information about Argo and his campaign is available online.
On his Facebook page, he writes, “I will fight to preserve and protect the First Amendment right for those who choose to respect those men and women as well as for those who do not choose to respect them.”
The page also describes him as a “pro-American Democrat seeking support in passing on the American Dream.”
Mary Brannon (D)
Occupation: Former counselor at Purcell Public Schools
Platform: Brannon won the Democratic nomination in 2018, losing to Cole in the general election.
On her campaign website she writes, “I absolutely support Oklahoma schools, protecting Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid, our veterans, as well as providing transparency in government.”
Brannon favors a repeal of the most recent federal tax cuts, opposes efforts to privatize some aspects of the Department of Veterans Affairs and supports the expansion of Medicaid in Oklahoma through State Question 802.
Her Facebook page says that for issues not listed in campaign materials she will “follow the Democratic platform.”
David Slemmons (D)
Occupation: Poet, actor, director, festival organizer, librarian and human rights activist
Platform: Slemmons’ campaign website recalls his past as a “long-haired hippy” and peace activist.
“David earned himself quite the reputation,” the site reads, “was one of the first activists to drop the ‘F bomb’ in a public speech, and even earned an FBI file for his participation in public demonstrations against the Vietnam War.”
He studied drama and library and information sciences at the University of Oklahoma and helped start Norman’s Medieval Fair in 1978 and Groovefest in 1986.
Slemmons “believes our top priorities as a nation should be providing quality health care for all, quality education for all, and protecting our environment for future generations.”
He also supports LGBTQ rights and is against the detention of immigrant children at the southern border. Slemmons, who is a veteran, describes himself as a “Peaceful Warrior” on his campaign website.