NORMAN — The election that most observers thought would surely go to a runoff wasn’t even that close Tuesday night. U.S. Rep. James Lankford polled more than 57 percent of the vote with T.W. Shannon, his closest competitor, at 34 percent in the race for the unexpired term created by Sen. Tom Coburn’s resignation.
Despite the hundreds of thousands spent on television advertising by both sides, the race wasn’t even close. The political pundits gave credit to Rep. Lankford’s background as a Baptist minister and youth leader that managed the Falls Creek youth camp in southern Oklahoma.
Thousands of youths — many of whom are now parents and grandparents — have attended Falls Creek. It didn’t hurt that groups supporting Mr. Shannon, a former state House speaker, went negative with television advertisements a few weeks before the primary.
That approach backfired. Rep. Lankford stayed on the high road and his supporters multiplied. Even retiring Sen. Coburn took a swipe at the nastiness in the advertisements.
There will be a runoff for the Democratic nominee. State Sen. Connie Johnson and Jim Rogers will square off Aug. 26. No matter who wins, it will be a tough climb. The last Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from Oklahoma was OU President David L. Boren in 1978.
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