Voters Send All Of Oklahoma's Incumbents Back To Washington

Wednesday, November 3rd 2010, 12:01 am
By: News 9

Associated Press

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, whose opposition to government spending and waste made him the darling of Oklahoma conservatives, defeated three lesser-known challengers Tuesday to win a second six-year term -- which Coburn said will be his last.

Voters sent all of Oklahoma's incumbents back to Washington and kept the state's only open U.S. House seat in Republican hands. James Lankford, the former director of one of the nation's largest Christian youth camps, was elected in central Oklahoma's 5th District, which Republican Rep. Mary Fallin left to run for governor.

Coburn, 62, defeated perennial Democratic candidate Jim Rogers of Midwest City and independents Stephen P. Wallace and Ronald F. Dwyer, both of Tulsa. Rogers raised no money, while Coburn collected more than $1.9 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Coburn said his re-election reflects Republicans' success nationwide because of voters' dislike of federal policies under a Democrat-controlled Congress.

"I think the first thing we ought to see is that it has nothing to do with Republicans. This isn't an endorsement of Republican policies. This is people saying they don't like the way things are going," Coburn said during his election watch party.

Voters also re-elected Republican Reps. Frank Lucas in the 3rd District and John Sullivan in the 1st District. The only Democratic member of Oklahoma's congressional delegation, 2nd District Rep. Dan Boren, also retained his seat.

In the 5th District, Lankford defeated Democrat Billy Coyle, a criminal defense attorney and ex-Marine, and independent Clark Duffe, an optical technician at the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Lankford, a self-described political novice, effectively used online social networking to reach out to evangelicals and other voters. Lankford launched his campaign's Facebook page in September 2009, and now has more than 19,000 followers.

"I don't know politics. I know people," Lankford, 42, said at his election watch party. "I hope I never feel like a politician, honestly. I want to live, think and function like a normal Oklahoman. I don't want to get into the politics side of it so much that I forget who I really am."

Boren, 37, defeated Republican Charles Thompson, a veterinarian, for a fourth two-year term. The conservative Democrat said he's had success with conservative voters in his eastern Oklahoma district by opposing policies championed by Democratic congressional leaders including the health care overhaul plan supported by President Barack Obama.

"If I had voted straight down the party line in Washington, I wouldn't have been re-elected," Boren told The Associated Press. "People don't like the party labels. They want you to be bipartisan."

Boren said his goal for the next two years is to work with other conservative Democrats to develop policies reflecting the views of a majority of Americans.

"We're going to have to do some soul searching as a party," he said.

In the 3rd District race, Lucas defeated Democrat Frankie Robbins of Medford to win re-election. A former state representative from Cheyenne, the 50-year-old Lucas is a farmer and rancher first elected to Congress in 1994. He is the ranking Republican on the House Agriculture Committee.

His 34,000-square-mile district stretches from the Oklahoma Panhandle and far northwestern Oklahoma to the northern fringes of Oklahoma City in central Oklahoma.

Sullivan was elected to a fifth term in Oklahoma's 1st District by defeating independent Angelia O'Dell of Tulsa. He knocked off five GOP challengers in the July 27 primary election. No Democrats were in the race.

The former state representative was first elected in 2002 to the congressional seat serving much of northeastern Oklahoma. Since taking office, Sullivan has boosted the state's aerospace and energy industries and brought in new agents to step up immigration reform.

But his 2008 vote for the government's $700 billion financial bailout program angered some conservatives in the district.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole ran unopposed for a fifth term in the general election after beating a primary challenger earlier this year in the 4th District.