“When James (Lankford) certified the big lie, he joined the big lie,” Jackson Lahmeyer told the raucous crowd in Norman, citing Lankford’s failure to endorse Trump’s false claims about the election outcome. “The 2020 presidential election — that was a stolen election and we will never, ever allow it to happen again.” The state’s GOP chairman, John Bennett, has already endorsed Lahmeyer in the race.
Similar scenes are playing out in other red states where ultra right-wing challengers are tapping into anger among Republicans over Trump’s election loss and coronavirus-related lockdowns. Some incumbents suddenly are scrambling to defend their right flank, heating up their own rhetoric on social media and ripping into President Joe Biden at every opportunity.
In Texas, GOP Gov. Greg Abbott, who faces a contested reelection primary next year, is pushing looser gun laws than he ever previously embraced and proposing unprecedented state actions, including promises to build more walls on the Mexican border.
“I think it’s unquestionably attributable to the aftermath of the 2020 election and the insurrection and former President Trump’s claims of voter fraud,” said Alan Abramowitz, a political science professor at Emory University in Atlanta.