United States Senate election in Oklahoma, 2022 (June 28 Republican primary)

Republican Senator James Lankford is running for reelection in Oklahoma this year, facing challengers in both the primary and general election. Lankford was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014 after serving in the U.S. House. While considered one of the most conservative members of the Senate, Lankford faces criticism for initially planning to object to Electoral College results before backing down. He now confronts primary opponents attacking him from the right, as well as a Democratic nominee critiquing his loyalty to Trump. Here is an overview of who is running against James Lankford in 2022.

James Lankford Background

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate in 2014, James Lankford served two terms representing Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District. He built a reputation as an outspoken fiscal and social conservative, earning a 96% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union.

Lankford handily won the open Senate seat in 2014 and cruised to reelection in 2016. He serves on the Senate Committees on Appropriations, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Indian Affairs. The Lugar Center ranked Lankford as the most conservative Senator in 2019.

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Democratic Challenger: Madison Horn

The Oklahoma Democratic party nominated Madison Horn, a cybersecurity professional, to challenge Lankford in November. Horn previously worked for the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services, managing the state’s cybersecurity operations.

A political newcomer, Horn advocates for expanding healthcare coverage, protecting abortion rights, and increasing investment in education and infrastructure. She criticizes Lankford as an extremist focused on advancing far-right causes rather than serving everyday Oklahomans. Horn faces an uphill battle given the state’s strong Republican tilt.

Independent Challenger: Michael Delaney

Michael Delaney, pastor of a nondenominational Christian church, is running as an independent. Delaney emphasizes “Oklahoma values” and describes himself as fiscally conservative but socially moderate.

His priorities include protecting the Second Amendment, cutting taxes and regulation, securing the border, and expanding school choice. Delaney decided to run as an independent after concluding both major parties are corrupt. He faces extremely long odds given Oklahoma’s lack of recent support for independent candidates.

Primary Challengers

Lankford confronts two little-known but outspoken primary challengers attacking him from the right for not being sufficiently loyal to Trump.

Joan Farr

Businesswoman and political newcomer Joan Farr criticizes Lankford as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) for initially signaling plans to certify Electoral College votes against Trump before backing down. She touts absolutist stances on building the border wall, election integrity, gun rights, and abortion.

Jackson Lahmeyer

Pastor and political novice Jackson Lahmeyer also bashes Lankford as disloyal to Trump over the certification issue. His platform matches the far-right MAGA agenda, including completing the border wall, eliminating abortion, and cracking down on Big Tech companies. He also supports Trump’s false claims of 2020 election fraud.

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Lankford’s Advantages

Despite his primary challengers, Lankford remains heavily favored to win renomination and reelection. Key advantages for the incumbent Senator include:

Incumbency

Lankford enjoys wide name recognition and backing from the state Republican establishment thanks to his eight years in the Senate. Primary voters have generally favored incumbents over insurgent challengers this cycle.

Fundraising

The Senator holds a massive financial advantage, with over $7 million raised as of December 2021 compared to his opponents’ paltry coffers. This allows Lankford to massively outspend challengers on campaign ads and outreach.

Oklahoma’s Partisan Leanings

Oklahoma is one of the most Republican states in the country, backing Donald Trump by over 33 points in 2020. The state’s very conservative electorate provides a highly favorable environment for GOP incumbents like Lankford.

Challengers’ Strategy

While Lankford remains clearly favored, his opponents will seek to pursue strategic paths to potentially unseat the incumbent.

Appealing to Moderate Republicans

Both Horn and Delaney may try to attract moderate Republicans dissatisfied with Lankford’s staunch conservatism on issues like abortion and LGBTQ rights. This could be an uphill climb given the state’s partisan lean.

Highlighting Lankford’s Trump Support

In the primary, Farr and Lahmeyer will attempt to discredit Lankford with the GOP base by portraying him as insufficiently loyal to Trump. However, attacking Lankford’s conservative credentials could prove difficult.

Focusing on Local Issues

All challengers may benefit by keeping their campaigns focused on kitchen-table issues like jobs, education, and infrastructure rather than getting bogged down in national partisan battles. This could help them sway independents and swing voters.

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Race Analysis

Lankford Favored, But Competitive Primary

Lankford remains the strong favorite for renomination and reelection. However, his right-flank challengers could garner enough anti-incumbent primary support to at least force an unpredictable runoff election.

Horn Seen as Strongest General Election Challenger

While she faces steep odds, Horn is regarded as the strongest general election threat to Lankford. Her compelling personal story and focus on local issues could help her attract some independent and moderate GOP voters.

Delaney a Longshot

Past poor showings for independent candidates make Delaney a very long shot bet to make noise against Lankford. His campaign does not appear to have gained significant traction so far.

Conclusion

James Lankford faces his first competitive reelection bid in 2022 against primary challengers attacking his loyalty to Trump and a Democratic nominee critiquing his partisan record. However, the power of incumbency in a very red state like Oklahoma means Lankford remains the strong favorite barring major upset developments. His opponents will have to run savvy campaigns focused on kitchen-table issues and Republican moderates to have any viable path for victory.

FAQs

Q: What date is the 2022 Oklahoma Senate primary?

A: The Oklahoma Senate primary is on June 28, 2022.

Q: How long has James Lankford been in the Senate?

A: James Lankford was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2014. He is completing his second six-year term.

Q: Is Senator Lankford a Republican?

A: Yes, James Lankford has been a member of the Republican Party throughout his time in Congress.

Q: Who is predicted to win the GOP Senate primary?

A: Incumbent James Lankford is heavily favored to win the Republican primary. His main challengers are Joan Farr and Jackson Lahmeyer.

Q: Who is the Democratic nominee for Senate in Oklahoma?

A: Cybersecurity professional Madison Horn is the Democratic nominee running against Lankford in the November general election.

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