Jun 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Cole backed up by House Approps members in GOP primary

Rep. Tom Cole, wearing a blue suit and speaking on the House floor while surrounded by colleagues.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Tom Cole. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is getting a financial assist from his panel's members as he faces a well-funded primary challenge from his right flank.

Why it matters: Cole's opponent, insurance executive Paul Bondar, is able to self-fund his campaign and thus give the decades-long congressional veteran a potential run for his money.

  • Cole and several supportive, GOP establishment-aligned PACs have reportedly poured money into the race to secure his reelection.

Driving the news: Cole's campaign is hosting a June 27 "Drinks and Cigars" fundraiser in Washington, D.C., featuring a dozen of his Appropriations Committee colleagues, according to an invitation obtained by Axios.

  • Among the lawmakers are five Appropriations subcommittee chairs: Reps. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.), David Joyce (R-Ohio), Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) and Mark Amodei (R-Nev.).
  • The cost of a ticket runs from $750 for an "individual attend" to $2,5000 for a "PAC host," according to the invite.

Catch up quick: Cole, the former chair of the House Rules Committee, stepped into the Appropriations Committee role in April after Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas) relinquished her gavel.

  • He has served in Congress since 2003 from a firmly Republican seat in South Central Oklahoma, consistently winning reelection by comfortable margins.
  • A loyal ally of House Republican leadership, Cole has a solidly conservative voting record but is considered a bipartisan dealmaker and "moderate institutionalist" who is well respected on both sides of the aisle.

State of play: Despite Cole being endorsed by former President Trump, Bondar has attacked him as a creature of the Washington "swamp" and a Republican in name only.

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