James Lankford has represented Oklahoma in the U.S. Senate since January of 2015. He was originally elected to fill the vacancy left when Tom Coburn stepped down for health reasons. He is now running for a complete term. Oklahomans should vote for Lankford, either for his conservative policies or just to keep Hillary Clinton in check.
Of course, there is the standard reason that one might vote for a Republican. Generally, a candidate being a Republican is a good indicator of that candidate’s conservatism. Lankford himself is indeed solidly conservative. He is pro-life, opposes the Affordable Care Act and supports reducing regulation. One could go in further detail into how conservative Lankford’s record is, but doing so would probably not be particularly persuasive. Mainly, the people who would care most about that record are probably already inclined to vote for him anyway.
There is not really much that would convince progressives to vote for him either. Lankford’s conservatism obviously differs from progressivism on many issues. So, here are a few reasons that more moderate voters might also want to vote for Lankford.
Firstly, he does have some experience in Congress. He served in the House of Representatives 2011 through 2015. He has served in the Senate since 2015. In contrast, his main opponent, Mike Workman, has not held any major government positions. (Workman also lacks a campaign website page beyond Facebook). Of course, experience is not everything, but it is a plus.
Having more experience in the Senate has two advantages. Firstly, it establishes a record. Lankford thus far has not embarrassed Oklahoma, and there is no reason to think that he’ll start in his next term. Secondly, being in the Senate longer means more access to leadership positions, assuming one is of the same party that holds a majority — which brings us to the main reason Lankford should be re-elected.
Power in the Senate (or basically any legislative body, for that matter) is exercised through whatever group holds the majority. So, besides voting for an individual senator to represent Oklahoma, one is also voting, indirectly, for either Mitch McConnell or Chuck Schumer to lead the Senate. So, even if Lankford himself is more conservative than one might otherwise prefer, one would also be voting for a Senate leader who is somewhat more moderate.
Ensuring that Republicans maintain a majority in the Senate is particularly important this year, since it looks like Hillary Clinton will win the presidency. A President Clinton would be charged with nominating people to fill both judicial and executive positions. While cabinet members serve more or less at the pleasure of the president and would go away after her administration, judges and appointees to a lot of independent agencies remain even after a new president takes office. Since nominees require Senate confirmation before taking office, a Republican-majority Senate would mean that Clinton would have to pick more moderate appointees and make more compromises.
Also, while the House of Representatives (which will probably remain Republican) is able to keep legislation from being too left-leaning, having both houses of Congress being in Republicans’ control further strengthens Republicans’ bargaining power with the president. If one dislikes the idea of Hillary Clinton having free reign over the federal government, electing James Lankford will help keep her in check.