Oklahoma Delegation Seeking Additional Leadership Roles

For its relatively small size, seven members, the Oklahoma congressional delegation packs a big punch. And it could get even bigger. 

Thursday, March 28th 2024, 4:57 pm

By: News On 6, News 9, Alex Cameron


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For its relatively small size, seven members, the Oklahoma congressional delegation packs a big punch. And it could get even bigger. 

Two members of the delegation have just announced runs for significant leadership positions: U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) and U.S. Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

Cole's decision was first reported on back in November, but Lankford had given no public indication of his intention before making his announcement last week. "This allows me to be able to be at the leadership table, to be able to help drive policy and ideas," Lankford said in an interview last Wednesday.

Lankford got a taste of being at the leadership table with his recent months-long effort to reach an agreement with the White House and Senate Democrats on immigration reform. The fact that his effort was ultimately undermined by his own GOP colleagues only seems to have made him want leadership more.

"You can do a press conference and put out a press release," Lankford said, an apparent reference to those who criticized his negotiations but offered no viable solutions themselves, "but it takes real work to be able to form the coalitions to be able to get stuff done...I want to help push our conference to say, 'How do we push from press conferences to passing legislation?'"

Lankford is seeking what is viewed as the number five leadership position, Vice Chair of the Republican Conference. So far, he's the only candidate.

In terms of committee leadership, the Oklahoma delegation is strong: Lankford is number two on the Senate's Select Committee on Ethics. In the House, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) chairs the Science, Space & Technology Committee, Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) chairs the Republican Study Committee, and Cole currently chairs the Rules Committee.

 But with Texas's Kay Granger retiring, Cole has now formally announced he hopes to replace her as House Appropriations Chair, one of the most important positions in all of Congress. "It’s a world I know," Rep. Cole, who's served on Appropriations since 2009, said in an interview last year, "I think I could do a good job at it and I’m going to take a shot at it."

Some of his Oklahoma colleagues have already gone public with their support. Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) posted on X (formerly Twitter): "Tom is focused on restoring fiscal responsibility in Washington and will always advocate for communities throughout Oklahoma."

Hern also posted on X: "He’s a remarkable leader in our conference, and I look forward to working with him as we fight to rein in out-of-control spending in Congress."

The elections for these respective positions won't happen until after the general election in November. Lankford is not on the ballot this year, but Cole is, meaning he'll first have to win re-election to his 4th District seat.

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