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Lankford Vows To Continue Coburn's Work After Senate Win

U.S. Senator-elect James Lankford talks with his new colleague Jim Inhofe at a watch party during the Nov. 4, 2014 midterm election.
Shawntal Brown
/
The Oklahoma Daily
U.S. Senator-elect James Lankford talks with his new colleague Jim Inhofe at a watch party during Tuesday night's election returns.

Republican U.S. Rep. James Lankford will finish the final two years of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s term. A two-term congressman from Edmond, Lankford defeated Democratic state Sen. Connie Johnson and independent Mark Beard in the race to become Oklahoma’s junior U.S. Senator. Lankford’s victory means that both of Oklahoma’s Senate seats remain in Republican hands.

Lankford said Coburn’s leadership would be missed in Oklahoma, but that his work still has to continue.

“We have got to be able to take on oversight,” Lankford told the crowd during his victory speech. “We have to take on the budget issues, those things still have to be done.”

Lankford joins a large freshman class of Republicans in the Senate as the GOP takes over control of the chamber from Democrats. Republican challengers knocked off a slew of Democratic incumbents across the country with major victories in North Carolina, Iowa, Colorado and Arkansas while holding all three of their vulnerable seats in Georgia, Kansas and Kentucky.

The 46-year-old Lankford is a longtime Baptist minister who spent more than a decade as the director of Falls Creek, one of the largest Christian youth camps in the country with more than 50,000 attendees annually. Lankford will have to run again in 2016 for a full six-year term.

Coburn said he would continue to work hard on the issues that are important to him and young people in the country including the national debt.

“We need to have a constitutional convention to enforce two things,” Coburn said. “One being term limits and two is a balanced budget amendment.”

Coburn hopes that the new Senate will return to its roots as a deliberative body.

“The reason that you haven’t seen anything happen is because no bills have gone to the floor. There’s been 19 amendments in the last year I used to have 19 amendments a month,” Coburn said in an interview with OETA. “My hope is that whoever is in charge they return it to what it needs to be.”

Lankford was a political novice in 2010 when he won an open U.S. House seat. He then rose quickly among the leadership ranks.

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