Lankford Starts Senate Campaign, Other Oklahoma Politicians Still Deciding

Wednesday, January 22nd 2014, 7:37 pm
By: Craig Day

Oklahoma politicians continue to weigh the pros and cons of getting in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Tom Coburn.

The one man who has jumped in is already campaigning. James Lankford started his introductory Tulsa Tour on Wednesday.

"I don't know if anyone has heard, but we're slightly in debt as a nation right now," Lankford said.

At Tulsa Rotary Club, Oklahoma Congressman James Lankford, the biggest name yet to announce he's running for Senator Tom Coburn's soon to be vacant senate seat, talked to a packed room and focused on issues.

1/16/2014 Related Story: Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn To Resign After Current Session

"I don't know of any parent who dreams that their child will grow up and one day stand in line at a government agency," said Lankford.

He said the biggest issue facing the nation is fiscal responsibility.

"Zero balanced budget, and then start working our debt down," said Lankford.

He said progress is made through grunt work away from cameras, and large bills that often become divisive should be broken down into smaller chunks, which gives conservative ideas a better chance of advancing.

"I don't feel like conservatism is defined by anger, I believe conservatism is defined by ideas," said Lankford.

At a separate meeting in Broken Arrow, fellow congressman Jim Bridenstine answered questions about Senator Coburn's retirement.

"He's going to leave big shoes to fill," Bridenstine said.

But he stopped short of a definitive answer on whether he'll run for the seat.

"We're not rushing any decisions here. We're going to take our time, we're going to look at it methodically, we're not ruling it out. We're not ruling it in," said Bridenstine.

State House speaker T.W. Shannon is also considering a Senate run and intends to file paperwork with the federal election commission to form an exploratory committee.

Some blogs say former Congressman J.C. Watts or former Governor Frank Keating are also potential candidates.

Former democratic state senator Kenneth Corn of Poteau is also considering entering the race.

Several prominent Oklahoma democrats, including former congressman Dan Boren, former lieutenant governor Jari Askins, and Chickasaw nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, out of consideration.

Republicans Scott Pruitt and Tom Cole have also said they're not running.

Whoever wins the seat will only fill the remainder of Senator Coburn's term, which expires in 2016.