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Oklahoma’s Newest Congressman Surprised By Reaction To His Vote For Boehner

Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana - June 18, 2011
Gage Skidmore
Flickr Creative Commons
Then-Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell speaking at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana - June 18, 2011

U.S. Rep. Steve Russell had barely been in office for 24 hours before his constituents started attacking his first vote.

Credit Steve Russell for Congress / Facebook

Russell joined three colleagues from Oklahoma’s House delegation in voting to reelect House Speaker John Boehner. First District U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine voted for Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert.

“Much, or most I cannot say, of your support came from Conservative voters,” said Facebook user Bobby Snider. “We expected that you would hit the ground running and take back the government from the establishment politicians. What a disappointment your first vote was. Well, you have no where [sic] to go but up.”

Russell said he was surprised by the uncivil attacks, but that he was “at peace” with his vote. He also drew analogies to his U.S. Army career. The former state Senator and Army lieutenant colonel’s unit played a key role in the 2003 capture of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

“There was no leader, no plan and a terrible outcome. If you are going to spring an ambush, you better have superior firepower, violent action and surprise,” Russell said in his post. “Instead of pushing 300 or more pieces of legislation to the president we would have seen upheaval and no vision. Without a vision the people perish.”

The Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel reports U.S. Rep. Tom Cole was also vilified on his Facebook page.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, a close ally of Boehner, called the effort to unseat the speaker “unprofessional” since no Republican ran against him a few weeks ago when GOP members chose their candidate for speaker. Russell said in an interview with The Oklahoman last week that there was some advantage to continuity in leadership so Congress could get some early achievements.

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Brian Hardzinski is from Flower Mound, Texas and a graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He began his career at KGOU as a student intern, joining KGOU full time in 2009 as Operations and Public Service Announcement Director. He began regularly hosting Morning Edition in 2014, and became the station's first Digital News Editor in 2015-16. Brian’s work at KGOU has been honored by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated (PRNDI), the Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters, the Oklahoma Associated Press Broadcasters, and local and regional chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists. Brian enjoys competing in triathlons, distance running, playing tennis, and entertaining his rambunctious Boston Terrier, Bucky.
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