'Not even rational': Conservative Oklahoma senator targeted by 'RINO hunters'
The MAGA movement not only slams moderate conservatives like Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan as RINOs — even someone as arch-conservative as Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming is attacked as a RINO (Republican in Name Only) by devotees of former President Donald Trump. Another right-wing Republican who is now being told he isn't right-wing enough by MAGA extremists is Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma.
Tulsa World's Randy Krehbiel, in an article published on October 17, reports, "Republican in Name Only is the horse collar Lankford's announced primary opponents, Jackson Lahmeyer and Nathan Dahm, are trying to hang around his neck. Because Lankford did not vote to overturn Joe Biden's election as president, they contend, and because he apologized to some Black constituents for saying something that offended them, says Lahmeyer, he's not a real conservative."
According to Lankford, Democratic Sen. Dick Durban of Illinois finds the notion that Lankford isn't conservative ridiculous.
The Oklahoma senator told Tulsa World, "When all of this started, we'd just returned to the Capitol. Dick Durbin of Illinois, who's a true liberal, crossed the aisle, walked over to me, and said, 'You're not a conservative?'"
Lankford represents a deep red state — much redder, in fact, than its neighbor Texas. While Trump defeated Biden by 6% in Texas in 2020's presidential election, he won by 33% in Oklahoma. And in a state as red as Oklahoma, being considered a RINO can be damaging in a GOP primary. But Lankford finds it ridiculous that someone as conservative as himself is being told he doesn't live up to purity tests.
Lankford told Tulsa World, "Most of it is not even rational…. When I've heard somebody yelling about what's conservative, I respond that being conservative is a set of ideals. It's not volume."
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