Representative James Lankford, the Oklahoma Republican vying for outgoing Senator Tom Coburn’s Congressional seat, gave voters an idea of what kind of GOP Senator he would make on Monday. Lankford echoed criticisms lobbed at national Tea Party and conservative groups by the likes of Speaker of the House John Boehner and other establishment Republicans.
“After a great deal of thought, prayer and discussion with my family, I feel led to continue m Oklahoma common sense and principled approach to attack the deep problems in the United States Senate,” Lankford said in a statement announcing his candidacy to The Hill.
In an attempt to set himself up as an obvious choice to replace the budget hawk Coburn, the candidate lavished praise on the outgoing Senator’s efforts to reduce government waste.
“I am willing to wage a hard-fought campaign for the opportunity to continue Dr. Coburn’s conservative legacy,” he said.
But Lankford, who has voted for the recent budget compromise and in favor of raising the debt ceiling, hasn’t convinced the “outside” conservative groups who have so annoyed Boehner and other Republicans who are more willing than their Tea Party colleagues to cede to Democrats’ demands.
“We won’t support Congressman Lankford’s bid for the Senate because of his past votes to increase the debt limit, raise taxes, and fund Obamacare,” said Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins in his statement. “We have reviewed his record and it’s clear that conservatives cannot count on him to fight for their principles.”
Other groups have been quick to cite Lankford’s position as Republican Policy Committee chairman and a ranking member of GOP leadership as evidence that the candidate is a Washington insider with little concern for Main Street Americans. The Madison Project, a grassroots conservative group, charges that the candidate “served as a conduit for Boehner and Cantor, supporting their debt ceiling increases and funding for Obamacare in budget bills, thereby obviating one of the reasons for Republicans controlling the U.S. House.”
Lankford said that the groups are maligning him and other members of the GOP in a bid to take control over the party.
“It’s ironic, isn’t it, that one day you’re one of the most conservative members and then some individual gets mad at you and they decide to throw millions of dollars against you, because you didn’t vote exactly the way they want every day,” he said.
He continued, “That’s the cause of some of the basic problems that we deal with as a Republican Party, when a small group decides that they want to make sure that every member votes exactly like they want rather than represent their district at home.”