Rep. James Lankford Defeats Tea Party-Backed Candidate in GOP Primary for Oklahoma’s Open Senate Seat

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — U.S. Rep. James Lankford has won the Republican nomination for Oklahoma’s open U.S. Senate seat.

U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, gestures as he speaks during a Republican candidate forum for the open U.S. Senate seat in Lawton, Okla., Friday, June 6, 2014. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

By capturing more than 50 percent of the vote Tuesday in the seven-man GOP primary field, Lankford avoids a runoff and faces the Democratic nominee and an independent in November.

The seat was open because U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn decided to forego the final two years left on his term amid a recurrence of cancer. The state’s other senator, James Inhofe, also was on the ballot and easily won his GOP primary.

A two-term congressman and Baptist minister from Edmond, the 46-year-old Lankford faced a fierce challenge from tea party-backed T.W. Shannon. Shannon last year became both the youngest and the first African-American speaker of the House.