Republican Congressman James Lankford announced his candidacy Monday for the U.S. Senate.
Lankford hopes to fill the term being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn, who announced last week that he will retire early after the current session. Coburn announced earlier this year that he is battling a reoccurrence of cancer.
“There are things that you can do in the Senate with both the staff structure and the schedule to be able to accomplish more than what you can accomplish in the House,” Lankford told The Edmond Sun. “The frustration with the House is that we can continue to beat on the issues, but we need to solve some of these issues.”
Voters have elected Lankford, R-Edmond, to Congress in 2010 and returned him to office in 2012. His influence rose quickly in the Republican ranks. Lankford is chairman of the Republican Policy Committee and is an outspoken member of the House budget committee.
“The Senate is the most contentious body in our government today,” Lankford stated on his Facebook page. “Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats continue to divide America for political gain. The problems that we face as a nation will not be solved by yelling louder, they will be resolved when we put forward clear conservative solutions that the American people overwhelmingly support.”
State House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, and U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, are also considering a run for Senate, according to the Associated Press.
Gov. Mary Fallin, who has said she is not going to run for the Senate seat, already has called for a special election to fill Coburn’s position. The election dates will coincide with the 2014 mid-term election dates, meaning that both of Oklahoma’s Senate seats will be on the ballot at the same time. Sen. Jim Inhofe announced his re-election effort earlier this year.
As of the most recent campaign finance reporting date in September, Lankford had $450,000 in cash that could be used to kickstart his Senate bid. The next report is due out next week.
Lankford said the $17 trillion national debt and the $680 billion deficit are the two biggest issues facing future generations.
“If we can’t get that resolved, a lot of things will fade away,” Lankford said. “We have to deal with debt.”
Lankford’s announcement has sparked political shuffling to fill the Congressional 5th District. Democrat Tom Guild is running a grass roots campaign for the 5th District seat. This is the retired University of Central Oklahoma professor’s third campaign for the seat.
“As to Mr. Lankford, I think he has really done at best a mediocre job and not a very good job in representing people in the 5th District,” Guild said Monday. “He has been way too extreme with social issues and his voting record has been anti-middle class.”
Guild said he wishes Lankford the best and hopes the congressman will begin to do something beneficial for Oklahomans.
State Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, is a possible contender for the 5th District race, although he was waiting for an official announcement Monday by Lankford, he told The Edmond Sun.
“My family and I have known this opportunity may present itself for the past several weeks,” Jolley said. “We’ve been talking about it … We’ll announce a decision about what we’re going to do after James has gotten the chance to have his day. He deserves that.”
Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, R-Edmond, told The Sun that she would make an announcement sometime Tuesday.
“Yes, I’m considering a race for the 5th District,” Douglas wrote in an email.
ABC News reports that state Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, and state Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, also are considering a run for 5th District.
Lankford has scheduled a town hall meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday on the campus of Metro Technology Center, 1901 Springlake Drive, Oklahoma City.
Candidate filing for 2014 statewide elections is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 9-11, at the state Capital. Voters will nominate their party’s candidates on June 24 for the statewide primary election.
A run-off primary election is set for Aug. 26. The general election is scheduled for Nov. 4.
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