Oklahoman: James Lankford prepares for freshman term in Congress

Jan 05, 2011
In The News

WASHINGTON — Facing a room full of friends and family members who came here to see him sworn into Congress, James Lankford couldn’t keep from being emotional.

James Lankford prepares for freshman term in Congress “We were overlooked, but we felt called to do this task, and we just went out and did it,” Lankford said Tuesday after a ceremonial swearing-in conducted by Rep. Frank Lucas, the dean of Oklahoma’s House delegation.

Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, choked up when he thanked his wife and daughters for the sacrifices they made during his yearlong campaign for Congress and talked about splitting his time between here and his home.

“We have never as a family been separated … We’ve always done everything together,” he said.

And he expressed his gratitude to people such as Holly Isch, his volunteer campaign manager, and her husband, Greg, who took on extra work after Holly gave up her salary.

“It wasn’t about me,” he said. “It was about us … this group that has been us in this journey.”

Lankford, 42, will be officially sworn in today, when the new Congress begins, taking the 5th District seat vacated by Gov.-elect Mary Fallin.

The former Baptist church camp director, who was little known politicially when the campaign began, defeated a field of Republican candidates that included two sitting members and one former member of the state Legislature.

He defeated Oklahoma City attorney Billy Coyle in the general election.

Because only Lankford’s wife, Cindy, and daughters Hannah and Jordan, will have seats in the crowded House chamber today when all of the members are sworn in, the ceremony Tuesday afforded about 50 friends, relatives and new staff members the chance to hear him take the oath.

Lucas, R-Cheyenne, used the hearing room used by the House Agriculture Committee for the ceremony; Lucas will be the chairman of that committee starting today.

Darin M. Wood, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Texas, went to Southwestern Seminary with Lankford and was among those who made the trip to Washington.

“As excited as I am for him, it’s just humbling how God has orchestrated things and brought this to bear,” Wood said. “My prayer is that he’ll continue to be the guy I’ve known and loved for the last 20 years.”

Lankford’s mother, Linda Garrett, traveled from Heath, Texas, for the event.

“I’m very proud of him,” Garrett said.

She recalled that they used to talk about politics frequently when Lankford was growing up.

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