Oklahomans React To Sullivan's Alcohol Addiction

Saturday, May 30th 2009, 8:11 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - Oklahomans are reacting to the announcement of Congressman John Sullivan's addiction to alcohol.

Sullivan has taken a leave of absence from Congress and checked himself into the Betty Ford Center in California.

He has won five congressional elections as a Republican and has been on Capitol Hill for seven years.

Sullivan has admitted to problems with alcohol in his youth, and alcohol has been a running theme in his opponents' TV ads.

"You come to a point in your life to where you say, ‘I need some help,' and he's at that point," said J.B. Alexander, co-chairman of the Tulsa County Republicans.

Sullivan is a local product who hit the political primetime in 2002. He's been Tulsa's voice on Capitol Hill for seven years, and his current term isn't up for another year and a half.

But for now, he has left Congress to overcome alcohol addiction.

"This is a serious problem, and he has to get it taken care of," Owasso resident Lisa Stiles said.

Sullivan says his leave is temporary, but it is unknown when he will return to Congress.

The Betty Ford Center says the traditional length of stay for a first-time inpatient is 30 days.

State Sen. Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) is a Republican candidate for Governor. He says he's praying for Sullivan's successful and speedy recovery. Until Sullivan returns, Tulsa has no voice in Congress.

"Sure, it's a void," Brogdon said. "It always can be dramatic, can be important, when the people are not represented."

Stiles says that's a big concern.

"It does bother me, sure, that we're missing somebody," she said. "It's always like that in any work setting. If someone's out, someone else has to take up the slack."

Alexander says Sullivan should be commended for seeking help.

"Not having him there for a month will be a little bit of a problem for us, I do believe," Alexander said. "But his personal health, and his family issues, comes first."

Until Sullivan returns to Congress, Oklahoma's delegation is down one vote, to four.

Congress has 31 days off between now and Labor Day, so the House schedule could play into how and when Sullivan returns.

Several of his congressional colleagues have offered their support in his fight against addiction.

5/29/2009 Related Story: John Sullivan Seeks Alcohol Treatment