The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

January 23, 2014

Is James Lankford conservative enough for the right wing?

ENID, Okla. — When is a conservative not conservative enough?

Soon after U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., announced his intention to run to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, some surprising shots were fired.

The Senate Conservatives Fund said it couldn’t count on Lankford to fight for conservative principles.

The Madison Project labled Lankford “a quintessential status quo Republican.”

Matthew Vermillion, president of OKforTEA and Oklahoma state coordinator for Tea Party Patriots, called out Lankford’s “liberal votes.”

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth organization suggested Lankford would be difficult to back because his congressional scorecard is lower than Coburn’s.

Lankford isn’t a conservative? Really?

“When folks like Sen. … James Lankford are not conservative enough for you, it’s time to look in the mirror and ask what your priorities are,” GOP strategist Brian Walsh, a former National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman, told The Hill.

We agree. Republicans don’t want to skew too extreme that they can’t govern.

The GOP nominee will practically be a shoe-in for the Senate seat. Conservative Ernest Istook, a former 5th Congressional District congressman, accurately has predicted that any Democrat running for Coburn’s slot would be a sacrificial lamb.

Lankford was the first GOP hopeful to announce for this interesting Senate scramble. Oklahoma’s Republican House Speaker T.W. Shannon is contemplating giving up his legislative seat to run.

And U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, also is considering the race.

Is Lankford conservative enough to win? Stay tuned.

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