Oklahoma elections: James Lankford wins GOP's 5th District nomination over Kevin Calvey

Oklahoma newcomer's triumph completes sweep of veteran lawmakers vying for the seat.
BY CHRIS CASTEEL Modified: August 25, 2010 at 12:10 pm •  Published: August 25, 2010

Political newcomer James Lankford completed his sweep on Tuesday of legislative veterans, easily dispatching former state lawmaker Kevin Calvey in the Republican runoff for the congressional district that includes Oklahoma City.

Lankford received 29,814 votes, or just over 65 percent, to 15,899 votes for Calvey.

Referring to the fact that he had never run for office before, Lankford told about 500 cheering supporters at his Oklahoma City victory party that he still wasn't used to being a candidate.

"I understand my name is on the (campaign) sign, which freaks me out every time I see it," Lankford said.

Gesturing to his family and the crowd, he said he didn't win the race alone.

"We worked hard, and it's with God's blessing," he said.

In an interview, he credited his victory to people who had put their trust in him to go to Washington and represent their values. He said he wasn't idealistic enough to believe he could change things in a few weeks but promised to bring his passion to the job.

Calvey conceded about 8:15 p.m. and congratulated Lankford, crediting his campaign with "an awesomely loyal network of people at his church."

"There aren't a whole lot of things I would have done differently," Calvey said. "The result was always in God's hands. I poured out everything. It's not the time for bitterness or regret or what ifs."

Lankford, who directed a Bapitst youth camp for 13 years, won the Republican nomination in a two-round process in which he defeated three current or former members of the Oklahoma Legislature. He easily defeated state Reps. Shane Jett and Mike Thompson, along with three other candidates, in the July 27 primary before defeating Calvey on Tuesday.

Lankford edged Calvey by just 613 votes in the first round, but clearly had momentum on his side in the days leading up to Tuesday's contest.

Calvey, an Oklahoma City attorney and Iraq war veteran, sought to close the gap last week with a last-minute effort to portray Lankford as soft on terrorism. But Lankford responded quickly, labeling Calvey as a career politician that would do anything to win a race.

Lankford capitalized on his outsider status in an election environment hostile to the establishment, lecturing in his broadcast ads against the status quo.

He goes into the general election campaign as the odds-on favorite since the district, even with boundary changes, hasn't elected a Democrat since 1974 and that one — the late John Jarman — switched to the GOP in 1975. National political analysts have labeled the seat a safe one for Republicans this year.

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