Retiring Republican Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn says he’s "sickened" by attack ads in the tightening race to succeed him – and lashed out at the conservative groups responsible for them.
Defending GOP Rep. James Lankford in his June 24 primary run against conservative challenger T.W. Shannon, Coburn said the ads by "groups such as Senate Conservative Fund and Oklahomans for a Conservative Future … have crossed an important line – they simply aren't truthful, and they mischaracterize James Lankford's service in Congress," The Washington Post
Coburn's angry statement comes amid a heated campaign that's drawn attention from tea party groups criticizing Lankford as an "insider" who's supported Obamacare, the newspaper notes.
"James Lankford is in House leadership and has voted for wasteful spending, higher taxes," said Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli in a statement accompanying a new ad, The Post reported.
Another group, Oklahomans for a Conservative Future, has spent more than $1 million on behalf of Shannon and recently began running ads showing Lankford with President Barack Obama and saying he'd voted for an "Obama budget," the Oklahoman
"I am sickened that the only way someone can win a race is to run negative ads against them," Coburn told the Oklahoman, saying he was particularly offended by charges Lankford supported Obamacare and voted for government waste.
Coburn is retiring after the current congressional session; Shannon and Lankford are in a crowded seven-way race for the Republican nomination to run for the seat.
Shannon, a former Oklahoma House Speaker, tried to distance himself from the ads, the Oklahoman reported, saying he'd "already spoken out against negative ads from outside groups."
"I agree that all ads should be truthful and focused on issues and the records of the candidates. I cannot control the messaging of outside groups, but I can control what my campaign says and does."
Meanwhile, Lankford released an internal poll Friday showing him running ahead of Shannon by 7 points, The Hill
The survey, conducted by the Tarrance Group, gave Lankford 41 percent support to Shannon’s 34 percent support among likely GOP primary voters. The other candidates draw a combined 7 percent of the vote, and 18 percent are undecided.
Lankford’s last internal poll in mid-May showed him up 10 points over Shannon.
The Hill reported indications that the heated race is heading for a runoff.
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