The resignation of Jim Bridenstine as the 1st District U.S. Representative in Oklahoma to head NASA leaves a choice for Gov. Mary Fallin as well as empty membership on energy related house committees.
Gov. Fallin cannot appoint someone to succeed Bridenstine in the U.S. House. She can only call for special elections to fill the remainder of the term. But in this case, since Bridenstine was up for re-election in the fall, the governor possibly could not make such a call and let voters decide in November since the election process is already underway.
At least 10 candidates have filed for the House seat. One of the last special elections for the U.S. House was in 1994 when 6th district Rep. Glenn English resigned to become a Washington D-C lobbyist for rural electric cooperatives. Then-Gov. David Walters announced a special election which eventually was won by Frank Lucas who has held the seat ever since.
Had Bridenstine been a U.S. Senator, the governor could not have named a replacement as is the practice in other states. In Oklahoma history, such was the case when Sen. Robert S. Kerr died in January of 1963. Gov. J. Howard Edmondson, with only about two weeks left in his term resigned and Lieutenant Gov. George Nigh took over as governor and appointed Edmondson to fill Kerr’s term.
Oklahoma had previously followed what other states do and that is have the governor appoint someone to fill an empty U.S. Senate seat but the state changed the law after Edmondson’s political maneuver.
In Bridenstine’s case, his resignation leaves a void on two House Committees—-Armed Services and Science, Space and Technology.
He served on two subcommittees of Armed Services including Strategic Forces and Sea Power and Projection Forces.
On Science and Space, Bridenstine was on subcommittees on Energy and Space.
He was also a member of several House caucuses including the Cybersecurity caucus, Space Power caucus, Pilots caucus, Electromagnetic Pulse caucus and the Military Depot, Arsenal, Ammunition Plant, and Industrial Facilities caucus.