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Lankford Win Highlights Stunning Rise To Power

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U.S. Rep. James Lankford during a December 2011 House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing.

U.S. Rep. James Lankford's victory over a well-funded tea party challenger highlights a stunning rise to power for a 46-year-old who was a church camp director and political unknown just four years ago.

In a solidly Republican state, Lankford's victory on Tuesday over former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon and five other GOP challengers all but assures he will become Oklahoma's next U.S. senator in November. He will face an independent and the winner of a Democratic primary runoff between state Sen. Connie Johnson and perennial candidate Jim Rogers in the general election. The state hasn't elected a Democrat to an open U.S. Senate seat since David Boren 1978, and hasn't elected an Oklahoma City resident to the U.S. Senate since Mike Monroney in 1950.

In the race for Oklahoma's other U.S. Senate seat, incumbent Republican Jim Inhofe easily dispatched four GOP challengers to win the nomination. He will face Democrat Matt Silverstein and three independents in November.


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