OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — William Craig Stump says he's not a member of a tea party, but likes their way of thinking enough to mount a challenge to 10-term incumbent Frank Lucas for an Oklahoma U.S. House seat that stretches from Kansas to Texas and from near Tulsa to the New Mexico border.
“I had always thought that he was a very conservative representative, but he's not as conservative as I thought he would be,” said Stump, 45, of Drumright, an avionics technician for American Airlines.
Of Oklahoma's four Republican congressmen, three face challenges in the state's June 26 primary. When three incumbents — two Republican and one Democrat — ran for re-election two years ago, the officeholders won with 77 percent, 76 percent and 62 percent of the primary vote despite tea party influence that saw many incumbents fail nationwide.
Stump said now was the time to run, regardless of the tea party's influence on politics on the 2010 races. He said Lucas' score of 50 percent by the conservative group Heritage Action for America gave him pause. He believes Oklahoma congressmen should work to balance the federal budget, limit environmental regulations and reduce U.S. funding to the United Nations.
“‘I'm not a tea party member, but I believe in what they're standing for,” said in an interview with The Associated Press. “We have to protect our constitution.”
The challenger also would like to see Lucas spend more time on energy issues and less on agriculture. “There's still a lot of oil in Oklahoma,” he said.
Lucas, a farmer and rancher, holds a key role on farm-related issues.
“I just happen to have a very high profile role as chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture committee,” Lucas, 52, said. “Yes, I have a heavy focus on agriculture, but along with agriculture, along with the energy industry and along with business. Those are the three things that drive the western Oklahoma economy.”
The winner will face the winner of the Democratic primary between Timothy Ray Murray of Moore and Frankie Robbins of Medford in the November general election. Independent candidate William M. Sanders of Stillwater will also appear on the November ballot.