canada africa partner reservation Potential campaigns to unseat Rep. Tom Cole could get ugly and expensive

Potential campaigns to unseat Rep. Tom Cole could get ugly and expensive


A wealthy Texas businessman — with few connections to Oklahoma — is one of four Republicans trying to unseat incumbent 4th District Congressman Tom Cole. The Republican Party primaries are scheduled for Tuesday, June 18.

Paul Bondar, a self-described patriot and family man from Texas, said he now lives in Oklahoma. Bondar, who grew up in Wisconsin, spent his adult life in Illinois. He owned Bondar Insurance Group in Oak Brook, Illinois, and moved to Texas in 2020.

Records show Bondar has a Texas driver’s license and did not vote in a Texas election until March 5, 2024. His transition to Oklahoma has been swift and appears to parallel the 2024 election cycle.

On March 25, Bondar filed paperwork to run for Congressional District 0 in Oklahoma. The address Bondar used in Oklahoma was 3212 Rutherford Way, Norman – the same address listed as Dr. Nicole Kish, a Norman optometrist who ran for mayor and is part of the group Unite Norman.

Bondar amended his federal election papers on May 3, changing the declared district from 0 to 4.

Bondar was not listed as a registered voter in Oklahoma until April 3. His Oklahoma voter registration is listed in Pontotoc County. On April 4, Bondar filed a declaration of candidacy with the Oklahoma Election Board listing the state’s 4th District Congressional seat. A day later, on April 5, Bondar received an Oklahoma driver’s license.

Why Paul Bondar says he has decided to run for office in Oklahoma

Bondar told an Oklahoma City television station that he had invested in Oklahoma and decided to run for Congress because of that investment.

“I’ve been to a number of different states in the United States, most recently before Oklahoma I was in Texas,” Bondar told KFOR television. “I invested in Oklahoma. We bought over 500 hectares. We’re building a very large forever house on these 500 acres above a pond. And so this is a bigger commitment in the state of Oklahoma that we’ve made.

Bondar said the 500-acre farm is near Durant. That address is well outside the boundaries of the 4th Congressional District, which includes all or part of the 15 counties in south-central Oklahoma. It is bordered on the south by Texas and extends north to Norman, Moore and much of southern Oklahoma City. Lawton, Ada and Ardmore are also in the district.

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Bondar’s campaign records list Thomas Datwyler as his campaign treasurer. Datwyler previously served as campaign treasurer for former Congressman George Santos. Santos represented New York’s 3rd Congressional District until he was expelled from Congress for fraud.

Since the filing, Bondar has waged an aggressive campaign against Cole. In his ads, Bondar cast Cole as a career politician who has essentially wasted public money and who has been absent from his congressional district for years. Bondar says he is a Trump supporter, and his commercial features him with a cardboard cutout of Trump.

“I feel like there is definitely a need for someone who is actually going to run a campaign,” Bondar told the television station. “I think Mr. Cole has been basically unchallenged.”

Cole, a Republican, has held the seat since 2003 and was recently named chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. Before serving in Congress, Cole served as Oklahoma’s secretary of state from 1995 to 1999. Previously, he served in the Oklahoma Senate. Cole, a Chickasaw, is one of five Native Americans in Congress who are enrolled as tribal members.

In addition, Cole regularly holds public meetings in the 4th District.

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Defeating Cole could prove to be extremely difficult. Last week, Cole’s campaign responded to Bondar’s attack. In his most recent ad, Cole said Bondar was trying to buy the congressional seat and that Bondar owned no property in Oklahoma. Cole’s ad notes that the congressman was endorsed by Trump.

Cole’s ad claimed that Bondar does not live in Oklahoma at all and accused him of trying to “buy” the OK-4 seat.

“Paul Bondar bought a lot of nice things,” Cole’s ad said. “Like his luxurious mansion in Illinois, where he didn’t pay his taxes. And Bondar’s mansion in Texas, yes, Texas, where Bondar swore he lived when he first voted. weeks ago.”

On Tuesday, Bondar’s campaign pushed back against Cole’s claim. The campaign released images of a warranty deed showing Bondar purchased property in Johnson County in 2022 and in Atoka County in April 2023.

“Regardless of what Mr. Cole would have you believe, I own land in Oklahoma. I am building a home on over 500 acres north of Durant and am currently renting a home in Stonewall,” Bondar said in a statement to The Oklahoman. “I am proud to be an Oklahoman now and I am even more excited about the future of this great state if I am elected.”

Bondar said Cole served in the House of Representatives for 22 years and has not voted in person in Oklahoma in more than two decades.

“As for Cole’s baseless claim that I’m buying a seat. Why would I buy a seat from the chairman of the allocation committee, who has billions at his disposal?’ Bondar said. “I am running because I am new to Oklahoma and want to remove the worst career politician and provide solutions to Oklahoma’s 15% poverty rate. Unlike Mr. Cole, I am self-funded to ensure I am not tied to special interests .”

The other three Republicans in the race have been quiet so far. Those candidates include Nick Hankins, Rick Harris and Andrew Hayes.

An Altus native, Hankins said his career experience includes working as an IT professional. Hankins said on his website that he would not vote for legislation in Congress that does not protect a resident’s liberties.

Hayes served in the U.S. Army National Guard from 2006 to 2008 and attended Cameron University and the University of Oklahoma. He said he worked for The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company and worked in agriculture. Hayes is affiliated with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, and the Liberty Literature Foundation.

Harris has not submitted any biographical information.

The winner of the June 18 primary will face James Stacy, an independent and winner of the Democratic primary. Mary Brannon and Kody Macaulay are vying for the Democratic nomination in the 4th District.