With a year until the Oklahoma primary, Sen. James Lankford, R-OK, has already picked up a challenger on the GOP ticket, but no Democratic contenders have announced their intentions to run – yet.
After winning his reelection bid in 2016, Lankford will have to defeat declared candidate Jackson Lahmeyer in the Republican primary to retain his seat. Lahmeyer, a pastor out of Tulsa, has openly opposed Lankford’s decision to certify electoral votes for the 2020 presidential election after previously saying he would contest Arizona’s results. Lahmeyer continues to claim, without providing evidence, that former President Donald Trump was robbed of the presidential election.
“He gave us his word he would object to certifying fraud on Jan. 6, but when the day came that we needed him most, Lankford flip-flopped like a fish out of water and caved like a coward to certify a lie,” Lahmeyer said.
Lankford was actually speaking before the Senate when supporters of Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, protesting President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Deliberations were halted, and when members of Congress reconvened, Lankford had decided not to oppose certifying the results.
Lahmeyer, meanwhile, has received an endorsement from Trump’s former Nation Security Advisor Gen. Michael Flynn, whom the former president pardoned from prison and who has continued to spoil for a "coup," and Oklahoma GOP Chairman John Bennett. The issues Lahmeyer wants to address include election integrity, ending illegal immigration, supporting Trump’s America First agenda, ending abortion, fighting against "cancel culture," defending interests of the oil and gas industry, and more.
Lankford told the Tulsa World it is highly unusual for a state party chair to endorse a primary candidate. He also has received greater support from Oklahoma officials, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, Sen. Jim Inhofe, Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin, D-2, and a large portion of the state Legislature.
State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, is among the area lawmakers to endorse Lankford.
“I look forward to continuing the work on behalf of Oklahomans in the U.S. Senate – standing up for our conservative values, fighting against overspending, over-regulating, and big government, defending our borders, protecting our right to live our faith, and speaking out for the value of every life, including and especially the unborn,” Lankford said.
Lankford has raised more donations, with his campaign account finishing with $1.63 million in June, and Lahmeyer’s ending with $136,774.
So far, members of the Cherokee County Democratic Party have not heard of any contenders for the 2022 election. The candidate filing for next year’s election begins in April, with the primary elections set for June 28.
Cherokee County Republican Party Chair Josh Owen said he doesn't personally think it is a county party's responsiblity to endorse a candidate in a primary election, but rather to endorse whichever candidate wins that race. He did say, however, that party members could call for a vote to endorse a particular candidate.
State Rep. Bob Ed Culver, R-Tahlequah, said it was too soon to publicly endorse a candidate, since filing doesn't occur until April of next year.