OKLAHOMA CITY — James Lankford, the Congressman from Oklahoma City who once helped run the largest Christian youth camp in the nation, opened a news conference Monday with a quote from scripture, then announced that he would run for the U.S. Senate.
“The Senate is losing a giant at the end of this year when Dr. Tom Coburn retires early,” Lankford said, reading from a prepared release at the Oklahoma History Center.
Lankford’s announcement came as no surprise. Speculation since Coburn’s confirmation that he will step down early identified Lankford as a possible candidate for the open seat.
For the last two months, Coburn had been sending clear signals that he would retire before his term ends, Lankford said. During the Christmas holiday, Lankford said he prayerfully discussed the decision to run with his wife, Cindy Lankford, and two daughters, Hannah and Jordan.
“It’s a tremendous sacrifice,” Lankford said.
With a Master of Divinity from Southwestern Theological Seminary and a long association with the Southern Baptist Convention, Lankford has made no secret that his faith and religious principals shape his style of governance.
Lankford was elected to Congress in 2010 to serve the 5th District with no previous background in politics. He serves on the House Committees on Budget and Oversight and Government reform. He is the chair of the subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care and Entitlements.
Lankford vowed to continue work on reducing the nation’s deficit.
“I do not fly away from my family every week to do nothing,” he said. “Dealing with the deficit is the single largest thing we have to do.”
Since he has been in office, Lankford said the nation’s debt has been reduced from $1.4 trillion three years ago to $680 billion this year.
“We’re chipping away at that — we still have a long way to go,” he said, stressing that the deficit is a problem that can’t be solved in a single year.