According to Lankford, the GOP must decide “win converts or burn heretics”

altar call: US Senator James Lankford, a Baptist minister, said during a Fox radio interview last week that Republicans must decide “whether we try to win converts or burn heretics.”

“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Do we want to win or do we need to hit someone?'” he said on the Brian Kilmeade show, which aired from Oklahoma City. “We’re still trying to decide as Republicans whether to knock people down or win them over.”

He also appeared to imply that Oklahoma voters may be walking away from former President Donald Trump.

“About half the people in Oklahoma think it’s Trump, he’s the only answer,” Lankford said a day before Trump announced a 2024 presidential campaign. “About half say, ‘I really liked his politics, but I wish someone else would run.’

“Over the past year, I’ve been hearing that a lot in my state. People appreciate what he’s done for the country… but they’re like, ‘Man, he just got so ugly.’”

birthday boy: US Senator Jim Inhofe celebrated his 88th birthday with a party at Joe’s Stone Crab, a popular Washington restaurant, Politico reported.

Normally a campaign fundraiser, this year’s party benefited Project Mercy, which supports Ethiopia.

Attendees included Lankford, 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas, several other congressmen, and numerous current and former staffers, including Luke Holland, the unsuccessful election of Inhofe to succeed him.

men flight: Lucas, senior Republican on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee and on track to become its next chairman, was among those who announced the launch of Artemis I on its mission to the moon.

The integrated launch vehicle and Orion crew vehicle carry high-tech mannequins that will collect data in anticipation of a manned mission in 2024.

“It is the first step in bringing Americans back to the moon and eventually beginning our manned journey to Mars. The Artemis program was a high priority for the Science Committee and I am so proud that it is coming to fruition,” Lucas said in a prepared statement.

Vet Medication: Lankford was awarded a “big win” after independent benefits administrator Express Scripts reinstated 15,000 independent pharmacies into the TRICARE prescription drug networks.

TRICARE is the healthcare plan for current and former military personnel.

“Members of the Oklahoma ministry, their families, and their pharmacists have called and emailed me because they have lost access to their neighborhood and family-owned pharmacies because TRICARE and Express Scripts have terminated their contracts with small pharmacies without prior notice,” Lankford said in a press release.

“We took immediate action and worked directly with the Defense Health Agency and Express Scripts to change that. Now local pharmacies have the opportunity to fully consider contract and reimbursement rate changes so hopefully they can once again work with service workers to fill their prescriptions.”

Early line: BetOnline, an offshore bookmaker, has made Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis a 9/4 favorite in the 2024 presidential campaign after the Nov. 8 midterm elections. 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 has better odds at 55/1 than Texas Senator Ted Cruz at 65/1.

dots and dashes: Lankford declared his vote against the Respect for Marriage Act, which would outlaw a federal ban on same-sex and interracial marriages, as voting for “religious freedom.” … As expected, 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern was elected chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a political faction that includes most members of the Republican House of Representatives. … Fifth District Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, who was elected to a second term in November, won a leadership position reserved for GOP members who are at the bottom of the seniority pecking order. … The US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the smaller population of prairie chickens in Oklahoma and adjacent states as “threatened.” … US Senator-elect Markwayne Mullin said “an affordable” Thanksgiving dinner is “off the table” this year because of inflation and Democratic scrutiny of Congress and the White House. … Oklahoma farmer and former lawmaker Clay Pope of Loyal was appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Farms, Ranches and Rural Communities Advisory Board, which was joined by Edmond’s John Collison.

– Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World

“This is not a result of Putin’s war,” Lankford said, noting that the aborted Keystone pipeline presented an opportunity for new production.