Dozens Of Oklahomans Meet With Senator Lankford At 'Java With James'

In recent years, hundreds, if not thousands, of Oklahomans visiting the nation’s capital have discovered a program that not only offers expert insight into the workings of Congress and a personal audience with one of their U.S. Senators, but a free cup of coffee at the same time. It’s called ‘Java with James.’

Monday, March 25th 2024, 7:09 pm



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In recent years, hundreds, if not thousands, of Oklahomans visiting the nation’s capital have discovered a program that, not only offers expert insight into the workings of Congress and a personal audience with one of their U.S. Senators, but a free cup of coffee at the same time.

It’s called ‘Java with James.’

Last week, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) greeting all 74 — some coffee drinkers, some not — in the larger-than-usual gathering. And then, as is his custom, small group or large, Lankford started by asking everyone to introduce themselves — “Your name, what brought you to town," Lankford instructed.

It's a diverse group -- people from all over the state, there for a variety of reasons.

"Hi, I'm Ashley Stringer, and I'm from Edmond, Oklahoma,” said one woman, a 6-year lung cancer survivor.

In an interview following the event, Stringer said she came in order to press Lankford to support increased funding for cancer research.

"I’m currently on a chemotherapy pill,” Stringer explained, “but my oncologists tell me that eventually the cancer will outsmart my targeted therapy."

A group of officials from Altus, including former State Auditor Gary Jones, now Altus City Manager, were in town for the 62nd annual Quail breakfast; they attended Java, Jones wanting Lankford to know, despite criticism he faced for trying to find a compromise with Democrats on border security, he supports him.

"I will tell you that he is the epitome of what a Senator should be,” Jones said in an interview. "He’s somebody we’re very proud of."

But spring break is why most were in Washington and found themselves crowded into Lankford’s conference room last Wednesday morning. Oklahoma City sportswriter Jenni Carlson and her daughter were among them.

"I thought this would be a great opportunity to let my kiddo sort of see somebody that’s trying to influence how our country is governed,” Carlson said in an interview at the event’s conclusion. “Even though I cover sports, I listen to a lot of NPR in the house, so [my daughter] has a decent idea of what’s going on in the world of politics and government, so I think this was of interest to her.”

Lankford spent 15-20 minutes explaining what's going on in Congress right now and why. But mostly, he says, Java with James is about him and his staff listening.

"If an Oklahoman takes all the time and trouble to come here to Washington, DC, go through the security, go through the flight to be able to talk about the issue,” Lankford said afterward, “I want to make sure they’re getting heard."

Java with Janes happens every Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m. when the Senate is in session. Senator Markwayne Mullin, whose office is just around the corner from Lankford’s, has something very similar — Cowboy Coffee — which are also on Wednesday mornings, at 8:30 a.m. Both offices ask that you RSVP ahead of time.

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