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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

James Lankford
(image courtesy of Sen. James Lankford).


On November 2, 2010, Oklahomans elected Republican James Lankford, a conservative, to serve as U.S. representative from Oklahoma's Fifth Congressional District, which includes most of Oklahoma, Pottawatomie, and Seminole counties. The district is 87 percent urban and comprises the principal cities of Oklahoma City, Edmond, Shawnee, and Seminole. Lankford was born on March 4, 1968, in Dallas, Texas. At age four his parents divorced, and he, his older brother, and mother lived with his grandparents. His mother, an elementary school librarian, remarried, and the family moved to Garland, a Dallas suburb.

In 1990 Lankford graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in secondary education with emphasis on history and speech. He continued his higher education and received a master's degree in divinity in 1994 from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. One year later Lankford and his family moved to Edmond, Oklahoma, where he worked for the Baptist General Convention. From 1996 to 2009 he served as director of the Falls Creek Baptist Youth Camp, located at Turner Falls in the Arbuckle Mountains near Davis, Oklahoma. He and his wife, the former Cindy A. Hennessey, were married on May 9, 1992, in Tarrant County, Texas. They have two daughters.

During his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010 Lankford, an unknown with no previous political experience, had limited campaign funds. He used social media to launch his platform of reduced government spending. In the general election he faced Democrat Billy Coyle. Lankford won the race with 62.5 percent of the votes and replaced Republican Mary Fallin, who successfully ran for Oklahoma governor. Lankford ran for reelection in 2012. In the primary election he was unopposed. During the general election he faced Democrat Tom Guild and Independent Pat Martin. Lankford won the seat with 59 percent of the votes.

Lankford serves on the U.S. House committees on Budget and on Oversight and Government Reform. He chairs the subcommittee on Energy Policy, Health Care, and Entitlements. In 2013 he chaired the House Republican Policy Committee. Lankford has emerged as one of the leaders fighting against federal regulations that hinder small businesses and opposing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law by Pres. Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Lankford authored H.R. 2414, Farmers' Freedom Act of 2011, which would remove the regulation that prevented farm trucks from crossing state boundaries without federal vehicle regulations taking effect.

Linda D. Wilson

Learn More

The Almanac of American Politics, 2014 (Washington, D.C.: National Journal, 2013).

Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774–Present (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Congress), http://bioguide.congress.gov (accessed October 29, 2013).

"James Lankford," Vertical File, Research Division, Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 27 October 2010, 3 November 2010, and 8 October 2012.


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Linda D. Wilson, “Lankford, James Paul,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=LA038.

Published February 11, 2015

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