Stillwater News Press

Community News Network

February 19, 2014

Legislating more policy than politics

ENID, Okla. — Like the man he’s running to replace in the U.S. Senate, James Lankford sees himself as a “nuts-and-bolts” guy.

That kind of procedural conservatism, with subdued rhetoric and policy-focused legislating, has helped make retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn a respected lawmaker during his own career. Lankford sees himself in that mold, and intimated Wednesday he values progress over press conferences.

Lankford was in Enid to raise money and help expand his image beyond Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District. He has represented central Oklahoma in Congress since 2010. The Republican launched his Senate campaign after Coburn, R-Okla., announced he would retire within a year. Coburn was elected to the Senate in 2004.

Lankford, a former pastor and director of Falls Creek Youth Camp, already faces allegations he’s not conservative enough to represent Oklahoma. He’s been labeled a “status quo” Republican. The Senate Conservatives Fund said it couldn’t count on him to fight for conservative principles. Club for Growth finds his campaign hard to support and an Oklahoma tea party group has called him out for “liberal” votes.

A lot of that criticism, he said, comes his way because he’s not “loud” enough.

“They want me to go yell more. But I’m going to go work,” Lankford said. “They don’t disagree with my policies; they want my approach to be louder. That’s not who I am, and quite frankly, that’s not who most Oklahomans are. We’re a pretty polite group as a whole, with some notable exceptions.”

That attitude comes through in his stated policy goals. When asked to name five top issues he wants to tackle in the Senate, he cited energy independence, a balanced budget, eliminating duplication in federal programs, improving transportation infrastructure and expanding states’ rights to make up for federal inefficiencies.

“I’m well aware they’re not the big, sexy issues. But these are the things we can get done and that will matter long-term to the nation,” Lankford said.

He asserts his attitude toward lawmaking isn’t about compromise. Instead, “I’m much better at finding common ground because I’m not good at sacrificing my principles,” he said.

Deals should start with policies both sides of the aisle can agree on, he added.

“I can be a conservative but I’m not mad about it. I want to be able to win people to my position, and I most of the time don’t win them to my position yelling at them louder,” Lankford said. “Most people don’t like that, and I think that’s what turns off a lot of people to conservative principles. Conservatism ... defined by volume rather than by ideas — I have a problem with that. That’s not going to help us win over people.”

Lankford was careful to clarify that he does oppose Obamacare, and that its replacement is an obvious policy goal. His problem is with all the talk of repealing it, since there have been fewer alternative proposals. He expects to bring a law to the floor next week that lets states control their own health-care mechanism, to essentially let states either stay with President Barack Obama’s signature health care plan or pick one of their own.

Every Republican primary election focuses on which candidate is more conservative, he said.

“I’m not a person who’s going to yell and poke someone in the eye. I’m going to sit down with somebody, work out our differences, find a way to resolve it the most conservative way we can possibly do it,” said Lankford. “Our budget is so far out of balance, you can’t just walk up and say, ‘I’m going to shut the whole government down,’ and somehow it’ll be miraculously solved. You have to actually set a proposal and say, ‘Here’s where we need to go back to balance.’”

That’s why he’s willing to increase the nation’s debt ceiling, as long as the vote is conditional on resolving some of that debt.

“I think debt ceiling votes should talk about debt,” he said. “If they don’t help us get back to that process to deal with the debt, I’m not going to support it.”

Lankford’s main opponent so far is state Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, who gave up his position as speaker of the Oklahoma House to focus on his campaign. The two are friends, Lankford said. He declined to offer contrasts.

“I really don’t get into back and forth. I’m going to talk about what I believe and let him talk about what he believes, then go from there. I’m going to try to be as positive as I can possibly be,” he said. “I have a real odd belief that you can live the greatest commandment and do politics at the same time. I have people who disagree with me, but I think it can be done.”

Former state Sen. Randy Brogdon has said he’s considering a Senate run, but he hasn’t announced a campaign yet.

Lankford said he’s already building a field team and hopes to raise about $3 million by October. His congressional campaign garnered 4,000 donors, many of whom gave small amounts.

“I want to do that again. But with a five-month race, I also have to have folks that are going to give significant dollars as well, that believe in what I want to accomplish,” he said.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • HallofFameBraves.jpg Hall of Fame adds businesslike Braves, Frank Thomas, managers La Russa and Torre

    Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and their manager, Bobby Cox, dominated much of baseball during the 1990s. This weekend they went into the Hall of Fame together.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • police car.jpg Enid man injured following pursuit

    Larry Lynn Edwards was taken to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center following the 11:32 p.m. crash on 30th Street, just north of Fox Drive, with head and internal body injuries.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Texas man critical after ATV crash

    Edward Alan Bourland, 37, of San Angelo, Texas, was taken from the scene of the 3 p.m. collision by Eagle Med and flown to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

    July 26, 2014

  • Goo Goo.jpg The Goo Goo Dolls: A long way from making racket

    Group in concert with Doughtry and Plain White T's Aug. 5 at the Enid Event Center

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Buy & Share Photos
NewsPress e-Edition
NewsPress Specials
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Stocks
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years
Must Read