Sen. James LankfordJames Paul LankfordGOP senator: Buying Treasury bonds 'foolish' amid standoff over debt ceiling, taxes Florida senator seeks probe of Ben & Jerry's halting sales in Israeli settlements Senate Democrats try to defuse GOP budget drama MORE (R-Okla.) responded to his state GOP chairman's support of his Senate primary challenger, calling the move "unheard of."
“It’s more unheard of than it is rare,” Lankford told the Tulsa World on Sunday. “I’d say it’s highly unusual for a state party chair in any state in America to come out and say, ‘I’m not going to at least be neutral.’ ”
The incumbent senator noted that the state party is the ultimate decisionmaker, but added: "every state party chairman I’ve ever talked to has … at a minimum — it’s always just remain neutral."
“That’s the nature of every leader of every party, by the way, Republican or Democrat," Lankford said.
The development comes after the state's Republican Party Chairman John Bennett announced his support for Lankford's primary challenger, Jackson Lahmeyer. Bennett has said that he is backing Lahmeyer in an individual capacity, not as head of the state party.
“I’m here for one reason, one reason only, and that is to do the job that the people elected me to do — and that is to stand and fight for our constitutional republic and to get rid of those that refuse to do it," Bennett told The Oklahoman.
Bennett cited Lankford's move not to object to the certification of the 2020 election results in the hours after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol. Lankford originally said days before the attack that he would oppose the Electoral College vote due to claims of voting irregularities.
Lahmeyer has criticized Lankford for the move, saying the senator "caved like an absolute coward," according to USA Today.
The comments echo claims by former President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won't seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor's race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE, who has continued to maintain that the 2020 election was rigged. There is no evidence that widespread voter fraud took place during the presidential election.