U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn said Thursday he was “sickened” and “disturbed” by negative ads being aired against U.S. Rep. James Lankford, the Oklahoma City Republican who is running to replace Coburn.
In an interview, Coburn, R-Muskogee, said the ads being run by outside groups on behalf of state Rep. T.W. Shannon are “absolutely untruthful” and “deceitful.”
Coburn has not endorsed Lankford in the race and said Thursday he was not doing so in defending him against claims in the ads.
However, he called Lankford “a great man of character” who has worked diligently in the U.S. House to conduct oversight of government programs and activities.
“I am sickened that the only way someone can win a race is to run negative ads against them,” Coburn said.
A candidate who wins only by disparaging his opponent would begin his term with “a trust deficit” among the people who didn’t support him, Coburn said.
Coburn is retiring after the current congressional session; Shannon, of Lawton, and Lankford are among seven Republican candidates vying for the GOP nomination.
Coburn’s comments came as a group called the Senate Conservatives Fund began airing an ad accusing Lankford of voting for wasteful spending, higher taxes and more debt.
A group called Oklahomans for a Conservative Future has spent more than $1 million on behalf of Shannon; the group, which does not disclose its donors, recently financed ads showing Lankford with President Barack Obama and saying he had voted for an “Obama budget.”
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