The Huckabee endorsement is likely to give Lankford’s campaign a much-needed boost, as his main opponent in the primary, Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, has picked up a handful of big conservative endorsements in recent weeks.
In a statement, Huckabee touted the “servant leadership” of Lankford, calling him a “rock-solid conservative.”
“James Lankford is a rock solid Conservative who works hard and understands how to get rid of government waste and balance the budget. James has fought on the front lines against Obamacare and reckless federal spending every day in Congress.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, a major conservative super-PAC, have all come out for Shannon over the past month.
The endorsements gave Shannon early momentum to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn’s a conservative star, and any candidate who hopes to take his place in the Senate will have to prove their chops to GOP primary voters in Oklahoma, a deep-red state.
But Huckabee’s endorsement of Lankford is an indication conservatives might not be aligned behind Shannon, and Lankford — one of the most conservative members of the House, but seen skeptically by the Tea Party because of his willingness to work with GOP leadership — still has an opening in the primary.
A handful of other Republicans are also running for the nomination, including former state Sen. Randy Brogdon.