Fallin primary challenger encouraged to run for Senate in Okla.

Tea Party activists unhappy with their options in the Oklahoma Senate race are urging former state Sen. Randy Brogdon to drop his primary challenge to Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) and jump in the Senate Republican primary instead.

Multiple sources tell The Hill that Brogdon is getting encouragement to run from grassroots groups in the state, and that “organizing efforts are underway” for a "conservative alternative" to the two primary contenders, Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R). Candidates have until April 11 to file for the race.

Their efforts arise from disappointment that Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) opted out of the race on Wednesday, after being encouraged to run by national conservative groups and local grassroots activists.

And they signal a conservative backlash to Shannon, who is, they admit, a better option than Lankford — but ultimately not conservative enough.

“Yes he’s more conservative than Lankford, but this is the Republican primary. We’re looking for the best candidate, not the ‘good enough’ candidate,” one source, a Tea Party leader in the state, told The Hill.

Local activists say he doesn’t meet their standards because of his early support for a bill aligned with Common Core educational standards before opposing the measure, and because he hasn’t done enough to reduce the state’s budget, among other issues.

Daniel Horowitz of the conservative Madison Project, which had encouraged Bridenstine to run, signaled that the group might be interested in backing Brodgon.

“We’re definitely interested in trying to find the viable conservative alternative especially in a state like this. Obviously, we have to go through the vetting process,” he said.

Brogdon launched his second challenge to Fallin in December after losing to her in the 2010 gubernatorial primary. Conservatives are bullish on his chances if he does enter the race because he drew nearly 40 percent of the vote in that last race, despite running an underfunded campaign.

They also believe Brogdon could draw on untapped resources and support because he’s based out of the Tulsa area, while Lankford represents the Oklahoma City area. 

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