|United States Senator|
January 3, 2015
Serving with Jim Inhofe
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Oklahoma's 5th district
January 3, 2011 - January 3, 2015
James Paul Lankford
March 4, 1968
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
Cindy Hennessey (m. 1992)
|Education||University of Texas at Austin (BS)|
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (MDiv)
James Paul Lankford (born March 4, 1968) is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Oklahoma since 2015. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served as the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma's 5th congressional district from 2011 to 2015.
From 1996 to 2009, Lankford was the student ministries and evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and director of the youth programming at the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center in Davis, Oklahoma. He stepped down on September 1, 2009, to run for Congress.
In January 2014, Lankford announced he would run in the 2014 U.S. Senate special election following Tom Coburn's resignation from the Senate. He won the June 2014 primary with 57% of the vote, becoming the Republican nominee. He won the special election with nearly 68% of the vote and was elected to the balance of Coburn's term. He was reelected in 2016 with again nearly 68% of the vote.
Lankford was born March 4, 1968, in Dallas, Texas, the son of Linda Joyce (née House) and James Wesley Lankford. His mother was an elementary school librarian. His maternal grandparents owned a small dry-cleaning business, his father and paternal grandparents a dairy farm. His stepfather was a career employee of AC Delco, the parts division of General Motors.
His parents divorced when he was four; his mother and older brother and he lived for a time in his grandparents' garage apartment. He became a Christian at eight. His mother remarried when he was twelve, and the family moved to Garland with his stepfather. Lankford attended Lakeview Centennial High School in Garland. While at Lakeview Lankford participated in the Close Up Washington civic education program. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education (specializing in Speech and History) at University of Texas at Austin in 1990, and a master's degree in Divinity at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1994. He was a substitute teacher and Speech Team assistant teacher at Pflugerville High School in 1991.
After graduating, he moved to Edmond, a suburb of Oklahoma City, where he still lives today. He served with the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He became the program director of Falls Creek, the largest Christian camp in the U.S.
After two-term incumbent Republican Mary Fallin announced she was giving up her seat to run for governor of Oklahoma, Lankford entered the race to succeed her. He finished first in a seven-way Republican primary--the real contest in this heavily Republican district--and defeated former State Representative Kevin Calvey in the runoff. He then defeated Democrat Billy Coyle in the general election with 62.53% of the vote.
Lankford defeated Democrat Tom Guild with 59% of the vote. Following the election, he was named chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, the fifth-ranking position in the House Republican caucus. This is a senior position for a second-term House member.
Lankford supports budget austerity through lowering taxes and reducing government spending. He took the taxpayer protection pledge promising to support no new taxes. He supports the repeal of the income and estate taxes and supports a sales tax to tax consumption and not savings or earnings.
Lankford supports prioritizing spending cuts if the debt limit is reached and the Cut-Cap-and-Balance Pledge. He also supports a balanced budget amendment and voted to terminate the Home Affordable mortgage Program.
He supports compensatory time off for overtime workers and received a 100% rating from the CEI, indicating a pro-workplace choice stance.
In 2014 Lankford was endorsed by the National Rifle Association and had an "A" rating for his consistent support of pro-gun legislation. Lankford supports loosening restrictions on interstate gun purchases. He opposes firearm microstamping, a controversial method of imprinting casings with a unique marking to match it with a specific firearm, and would allow veterans to register unlicensed firearms.
After the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in which the perpetrator used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 AR-15 style rifle to kill 17 and wound 17 others, Lankford said on NBC News' Meet the Press he was open to requiring more comprehensive background checks for firearm purchases, saying, "The problem is not owning an AR-15, it's the person who owns it."
He supports expanding exploration of gas and oil both domestically and on the outer continental shelf. He opposes the Environmental Protection Agency regulating emission standards as he believes it hinders economic growth.
In addition to barring the EPA from regulating emission standards, Lankford believes manure and other fertilizers should not be classified as pollutants or hazardous.
Lankford has stated his belief that federally funded health insurance is unconstitutional and has made a statement that he will oppose any and all moves for a federal healthcare system. He supported an initiative to allow Medicare choice and also institute budget cuts.
Lankford opposes abortion. He believes Congress should recognize life at the moment of fertilization. He opposes any federally funded programs that allow for abortion, as well as Planned Parenthood and other similar groups.
Lankford has largely opposed legislation promoting LGBT rights. He opposes same-sex marriage. In the early days of his 2010 campaign for the House of Representatives, Lankford disparaged the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expanded hate crime legislation to include greater penalties for hate crimes motivated by the victim's sexual orientation or race.
Lankford supported Oklahoma Question 711, a statewide constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions that passed in 2004 with 75% of the vote and remained law until it was challenged in court and struck down by a federal judge as unconstitutional in 2014. Lankford lambasted the decision, saying that "marriage is a state issue and Oklahoma has spoken." He also endorsed the Defense of Marriage Act and condemned the 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down parts of the law.
Lankford has defended businesses and individuals opposing LGBT rights, including Chick-fil-A in the wake of its denunciation over donations to groups opposing same-sex marriage, and Phil Robertson after he was suspended from Duck Dynasty in 2013 following comments regarded as anti-LGBT and racist. Lankford attacked A&E for suspending Robertson, writing that Robertson "should be able to speak his views without fear of being silenced."
In 2012, five days after President Barack Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage, the first sitting U.S. president to do so, Lankford told a ThinkProgress interviewer that he believed homosexuality is a choice and that employers should be allowed to terminate workers for their sexual orientation: "I think it's a choice issue." After LGBT advocates condemned his statements, Lankford defended himself on local television, reiterating that homosexuality is a choice.
After the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the Alliance Defending Freedom an anti-LGBT hate group, Lankford criticized the designation and defended the ADF, which had described same-sex marriage as a threat to "healthy, free and stable society."
The Human Rights Campaign, the largest organization advocating for LGBT rights in the United States, included Lankford in its 2016 "Congressional Hall of Shame" along with Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.
In August 2018, Lankford, Marco Rubio and 15 other lawmakers urged the Trump administration to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Act against Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in western China's Xinjiang region. They wrote: "The detention of as many as a million or more Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim ethnic minorities in "political reeducation" centers or camps requires a tough, targeted, and global response."
In January 2014, Lankford announced he would run in the 2014 Senate special election to succeed retiring Republican Senator Tom Coburn. Lankford won the June 2014 Republican primary, defeating former state House speaker T.W. Shannon and former state senator Randy Brogdon. Lankford won the election for the final two years of Coburn's second term, defeating retiring state senator Constance N. Johnson by a margin of 557,002, 67.9%, to Johnson's 237,923, 29.0%, with independent candidate Mark Beard collecting 25,965 votes, 3.2% of the total.
Lankford was elected to a full six-year term in the Senate at the 2016 Oklahoma United States Senate election, defeating Democratic consultant Mike Workman with 67.7 percent of the vote. As in 2014, he won in a landslide, carrying every county in the state.
On December 21, 2017, Lankford was one of six senators to introduce the Secure Elections Act, legislation authorizing block grants to states to update outdated voting technology as well as form a program for an independent panel of experts that would work toward the development of cybersecurity guidelines for election systems that states could then implement, along with offering states resources to install the recommendations.
|Republican primary runoff|
|Republican||James Lankford (Incumbent)||153,603||58.70|
|Republican||T. W. Shannon||91,854||34.40|
|Independent||Mark T. Beard||25,965||3.20|
|Republican||James Lankford (Incumbent)||980,892||67.7|
|Independent||Mark T. Beard||27,418||1.89|
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 5th congressional district
|Party political offices|
| Chair of the House Republican Policy Committee
| Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Oklahoma
| U.S. Senator (Class 3) from Oklahoma
Served alongside: Jim Inhofe
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Senators by seniority