Tom Cole (R-Okla.) has served Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2003 and is one of only a handful of Native Americans in Congress. He serves as a Deputy Whip for the Republican Conference, is the ranking Republican on the Rules Committee, and is a member of the ultra-conservative Republican Study Committee. He ran for reelection in 2022 with Trump’s endorsement—even though the congressman has criticized the ex-president in the past, calling out several of his attacks on Democratic politicians as being “insensitive and unnecessary.” Cole won reelection with more than 66 percent of the vote.
Prior to joining Congress, Cole served as Oklahoma’s secretary of state from 1995–99 and was a history professor who earned a PhD in British history from the University of Oklahoma.
A 2008 New York Times profile described Cole as a “party man, a lifelong Republican consultant, campaign worker and politician whose career, like that of a typical European Social Democrat, has recognized only a fluid and fungible line between political operative and elected official.” In 2018, Citizens Against Government Waste named Cole its January 2018 “Porker of the Month” for his “leading role in the charge to revive wasteful and corruptive earmarks.”
Despite his occasional criticism of Trump, Cole adhered to the GOP playbook after the 2020 presidential election by helping to spread the Big Lie and voting against certification of President Biden’s electoral win, impeachment, and the establishment of a House committee to investigate the insurrection, among other measures. In 2021, in voting in lockstep with Republicans against H.R. 1 (the voter protection bill also known as the For the People Act), he dismissed the bill as the “Democrats’ latest scheme to federalize elections” and said it would “be an unprecedented power grab by Washington that would completely change the character of elections….”
January 6, 2021
- Just hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, Cole joined 146 other congressional Republicans in refusing to certify Biden’s win of the 2020 presidential election.
- Cole voted against impeaching Trump for his role in inciting the Insurrection, claiming that impeachment “will only worsen divisions nationwide” and the vote was rushed through without the due process “the presidency itself demands.”
- Cole voted against establishing a House committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack, saying that Congress should instead investigate the 2020 Black Lives Matter and racial justice protests—“the wave of violent rioting and property destruction that swept across the country” in the summer of 2020.
The Big Lie
- In voting against certifying the Electoral College results, Cole justified his vote by saying he was doing so “on behalf of (his) constituents” who did not trust the electoral process in his and other states.
- Cole contended that by refusing to certify President Biden’s Electoral College win he did not intend to overturn the results of the election. Instead, he professed that questioning the legitimacy of a presidential election was routine, especially since Democrats had raised concerns about election results in 2001 and 2005 after wins by George W. Bush.