Lankford, a devout Baptist, was the director for over ten years of America's largest Christian youth camp. He regularly speaks out against abortion and excessive government spending. His voting record in Senate was almost 90% aligned to former President Donald Trump's position.
Lankford is under intense attack from his own party, just like many other GOP incumbents. The opposition is a 29 year-old evangelical minister and newcomer who managed more than 2,000 people at a Freedom Rally, which was headlined by Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Lankford was accused not being conservative enough.
Jackson Lahmeyer said to the crowd in Norman that James (Lankford), certified the big lie and he joined it. He cited Lankford's inability to endorse Trump's false claims regarding the election result. John Bennett, the state's GOP chairman has already endorsed Lahmeyer.
Similar scenes are being played out in other red state where ultra-right-wing challengers are tap into the anger of Republicans over Trump’s election loss, and coronavirus lockdowns. Some incumbents are suddenly trying to defend their right flank and using social media to heat up their rhetoric and attack President Joe Biden whenever they can.
Texas' GOP Governor. Greg Abbott, who is up for reelection next year in a closely contested primary, is proposing unprecedented state actions and embracing looser gun laws.
"I believe it's unquestionably attributable the aftermath of 2020 election and insurrection, and former President Trumps claims of voter fraud," stated Alan Abramowitz (a political science professor at Emory University) in Atlanta.
Some conservative incumbents make obvious targets for right-wing challenges, such as U.S. Reps. Liz Cheney and Anthony Gonzalez in Ohio who voted to impeach Trump. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was charged with refusing to stop Georgia's electoral votes being given to Biden.
The 2022 election cycle is fast approaching and the backlash is touching even those who supported Trump through many controversies. Texas Governor Abbott has echoed Trump’s partisan positions, and has accumulated $55 million in campaign money. This is more than any other sitting governor in American history.
But he's drawn a challenge from Allen West, who until recently was the chairman of the Texas GOP. After Democrats temporarily blocked a GOP voting bill, decamping from Florida, West, a Tea Party firebrand and former Florida congressman attacked Abbott's leadership.
He can draw crowds. West organized a noisy rally outside the governor’s residence last year to protest restrictions on coronavirus.
"We can't sit back and do nothing," West said to supporters in South Texas during his first campaign stop.
Although Republican officeholders have been challenged by the right in the past "Trump's put another name and spin on it" this time around, according to Pat McFerron (a Republican strategist and pollster from Oklahoma).
He said, "As we become more selective with the media we consume," people discover like-minded people on different social media channels. They feel that they are in greater numbers and have more opportunities.
Arkansas Republican U.S. Senator John Boozman is a two-term incumbent. He has attracted several GOP challengers. Another is an ex-player for Arkansas Razorbacks football who complains that Democrats in Washington are being "taken over" by radical socialists.
Boozman has been criticized by his opponents for not certifying the presidential election results. Boozman may be criticized for being unusually calm during such a charged time. He has always focused on the state's agricultural industry and veterans services, but he frequently mentions Trump in campaign emails. He even offered tickets for a Trump rally.
Idaho's Republican representatives would normally be considered to be among the most far-right in the country, but they are also under pressure. Ammon Bundy, an anti-government activist, has made plans for a challenge to the incumbent GOP governor. Brad Little in 2022. Bundy's People's Rights has been involved in protesting coronavirus restrictions through mask-burning rallies.
Even lower-level races in blue states can show the anti-incumbent effect. An attorney who was involved in the Trump campaign's challenges won a victory in one of Virginia's reddest state House districts. He defeated a seven-term incumbent during a June primary.
In a campaign ad, Wren Williams stated that she witnessed firsthand what happens when election integrity doesn't be maintained. Williams also criticized Del. Charles Poindexter was criticized for not speaking out against voter fraud. He lost by more than 25 votes.
Oklahoma's party chairman endorsed Lankford's opponent. Lankford said that it was an "unheard" violation of traditional party neutrality.
He quickly reacted and criticized Biden more, hitting the president on immigration.
Lankford stated that "this is the problem" in a video taken at the Texas-Mexico border. He was accompanied by immigrants as he processed them behind him. This is what Biden doesn't want you to see... it is an open border situation."
Abramowitz stated that it is difficult for a Republican official in the current political climate to be conservative enough.
"If you look at Sen. Lankford, there's not many Republican senators who are as conservative as him."