Altar call: U.S. Sen. James Lankford, a Baptist minister, said during a Fox radio interview last week that Republicans must decide “whether we’re trying to win converts or burn heretics.”
“We need to ask, ‘Do we want to win, or do we need to beat somebody,” he said on the Brian Kilmeade program, which was broadcasting from Oklahoma City. “We’re still trying to decide as Republicans whether we want to beat people down or win people over.”
He also seemed to suggest that Oklahoma voters may be moving on from former President Donald Trump.
“About half the folks in Oklahoma think Trump is it, he’s the one answer,” Lankford said a day before Trump announced a 2024 presidential campaign. “About half say, ‘I really liked his policies but I wish someone else would run.’
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“In the past year I’ve heard that more and more across my state. People appreciate what he did for the country … but say, ‘Man, he’s just grown so caustic.’”
Birthday boy: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe celebrated his 88th birthday with a party at Joe’s Stone Crab, a well-known Washington restaurant, Politico reported.
Usually a campaign fundraiser, this year’s party benefited Project Mercy, which provides assistance to Ethiopia.
Among attendees were Lankford, 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas, several other members of Congress and numerous present and past staffers, including Inhofe’s unsuccessful choice as a successor, Luke Holland.
Man(nequin)ed flight: Lucas, ranking Republican of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and in line to become its next chairman, was among those heralding the launch of Artemis I on its mission to the moon.
The integrated launch vehicle and Orion crew vehicle carries high-tech mannequins that will gather data in anticipation of a manned mission in 2024.
“It’s the first step towards returning Americans to the Moon and eventually beginning our crewed journey to Mars. The Artemis program has been a high priority for the Science Committee, and I’m so proud to see it come to fruition,” Lucas said in a prepared statement.
Vet meds: Lankford took credit for a “big win” after independent benefit manager Express Scripts reinstated 15,000 independent pharmacies to TRICARE prescription drug networks.
TRICARE is the health care plan for current and past members of the military.
“Oklahoma service members, their families, and their pharmacists called and emailed me about losing access to their neighborhood and family-owned pharmacies because TRICARE and Express Scripts just stopped their contracts with small pharmacies without notice,” Lankford said in a press release.
“We immediately took action and directly worked with the Defense Health Agency and Express Scripts to get this changed. Now, local pharmacies will have an opportunity to fully consider contract and reimbursement rate changes so they can hopefully once again work with service members to fill their prescriptions.”
Early line: BetOnline, an offshore bookmaker, moved Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to a 9/4 favorite in the 2024 presidential race following the Nov. 8 midterm election. Current President Joe Biden is second at 15/4, just ahead of former President Donald Trump at 4/1.
Actor and former pro wrestler Dwayne Johnson, at 55/1, is at higher odds than Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’ 65/1.
Dots and dashes: Lankford explained his vote against the Respect for Marriage Act, which would bar a federal ban on same-sex and interracial marriage, as a vote for “religious freedom.” … As expected, 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern was elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a policy caucus that includes most Republican House members. … Fifth District Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, elected to a second term in November, won a leadership position reserved for GOP members low in the seniority pecking order. … The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed as “threatened” the lesser prairie chicken population in Oklahoma and adjoining states. … U.S. Sen.-elect Markwayne Mullin said “an affordable” Thanksgiving dinner is “off the table” this year because of inflation and Democrat control of Congress and the White House. … Oklahoma farmer and former lawmaker Clay Pope of Loyal was named to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Farm, Ranch and Rural Communities Advisory Board, joining John Collison of Edmond.
— Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World