Rep. James Lankford said Wednesday that his victory in the Oklahoma Senate primary race should serve as a clear reminder that local tea party activists are not going to take their marching orders from the national groups that claim the mantle of the grassroots movement.
Speaking on Ernest Istook’s radio show, Mr. Lankford said the idea of national tea party groups is an “oxymoron.”
“It is a grassroots movement, or it is nothing. It is not a national movement. It is a local movement that bubbles up to the top,” the Republican lawmaker said. “Whenever there is a perception that a ‘national tea party’ group can come tell the grassroots what they should think, the national groups find out again this is a grassroots movement, not a top-down movement. I think that was another lesson that happened this time.
“I don’t have an issue with individuals stopping in to endorse, to engage, but you are not going to try to grab the grassroots from the top down,” he said.
Mr. Lankford easily won a crowded primary race Tuesday that included former state Speaker T.W. Shannon, who has the support of the Senate Conservatives Fund, as well as Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.
Mr. Lankford said Mr. Shannon has already pledged his full support to helping him win in the general election and suggested it will not be hard to mend fences with Mr. Cruz and Mr. Lee because they agree on most policy issues.
“We might have some tactical differences on how long it takes to get something done, or how to actually achieve that, but from the perspective of free markets and protecting the Constitution and people living under the rule of law, we absolutely agree on those issues,” he said.