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Oklahoma Rep. James Lankford to run for Senate; Cole and Pruitt bow out

Sources say Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas and state Sen. Clark Jolley are ready to seek Lankford's seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
by Chris Casteel Published: January 19, 2014

Rep. James Lankford has decided to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn and will announce his intentions Monday afternoon, multiple political sources in Oklahoma said Sunday.

Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, declined early Sunday afternoon to comment.

Also, the sources said, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas and state Sen. Clark Jolley — both Republicans from Edmond — are expected to announce their intentions to run for Lankford's seat, which includes most of Oklahoma County and Pottawatomie and Seminole counties.

Lankford, 45, has been in the U.S. House since 2011 and has risen quickly, winning a leadership job — chairman of the Republican Policy Committee — after his first term. The former Baptist church camp director also has been an active chairman of a House oversight subcommittee; he was a heavy favorite to win a third term this year.

He had about $455,000 in his campaign account at the end of October; a report that runs through Dec. 31 is due soon. He can use money in that account for a Senate race.

Lankford has a town hall meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Metro Technology Center in Oklahoma City.

Freshman Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, also is considered a possible contender for Coburn's seat. A spokeswoman for Bridenstine declined to comment Sunday on Bridenstine's timetable for making a decision.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, announced Sunday that he's no longer looking at the Senate race; Cole is rapidly gaining influence on the House Appropriations Committee and he's a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.

“My seniority, my membership on three major committees, my position as a subcommittee chairman on the Appropriations Committee and my role as a deputy whip in the Republican Conference make me much more valuable to Oklahoma and the 4th District in the House than I could be as a freshman U.S. senator,'' Cole said.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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