Rep. Jim BridenstineJim BridenstineRepublicans blast Pentagon energy programs Louie Gohmert faces his biggest challenge Rubio surges in Oklahoma: poll MORE (R-Okla.), a Tea Party favorite, will not run for Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnGOP faces existential threat Sanders tops 2016 field in newly deleted tweets The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE's (R-Okla.) seat, he announced Wednesday morning.
"Since Dr. Tom Coburn’s retirement announcement, I have been honored and overwhelmed by encouragement to succeed him as Oklahoma's senator," he said in a statement. "After giving this matter serious consideration and prayer, my family and I have decided I will not run in the special election to complete Dr. Coburn's term."
His decision deprives national conservative groups their preferred candidate for the race. The Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project had been openly lobbying for him to run, and the Club for Growth has expressed concerns about Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), who is already in the race.
Bridenstine's decision leaves a likely head-to-head matchup between Lankford and Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R).