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GOP Senator James Lankford Apologizes to Black Constituents for Opposing Election Results

Newsweek logo Newsweek 1/15/2021 Darragh Roche
James Lankford wearing a suit and tie: Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., attends during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing titled Threats to the Homeland, in Dirksen Senate Office Building on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Lankford has apologized to Black Tulsans for planning to object to some Electoral College results. © Tom Williams - Pool/Getty Images Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., attends during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing titled Threats to the Homeland, in Dirksen Senate Office Building on Thursday, September 24, 2020. Lankford has apologized to Black Tulsans for planning to object to some Electoral College results.

Senator James Lankford (R-OK) has issued an apology to some of his Black constituents in Tulsa, Oklahoma for his intention to object to some Electoral College results on January 6.

Lankford had planned to object to President-elect Joe Biden's win but changed his mind following the riot at the Capitol that left five people dead. He sent a letter to "My friends in North Tulsa" on Thursday.

The letter said the senator's actions "caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state. I was completely blindsided, but I also found a blind spot."

"What I did not realize was all of the national conversation about states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, was seen as casting doubt on the validity of votes coming out of predominantly Black communities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit," Lankford's letter went on.

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"After decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate."

"I can assure you my intent to give a voice to Oklahomans who had questions was never also an intent to diminish the voice of any Black American," he said.

"I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you," Lankford wrote. "I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry."

Lankford has faced calls to resign from the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission because of his initial intention to oppose certification, according to Tulsa World.

On Wednesday, Lankford told Public Radio Tulsa that he bore no responsibility for the violence at the Capitol but he hadn't ruled out voting in favor of impeaching President Donald Trump.

"And while I'm very aware that there were people there that were caught up and were saying that there were problems [with the election], I'm also very aware that when I talk to people one-on-one and I say, 'Hey, do you think that there are some people that voted twice? That there are people that voted who were dead? That there are people that voted in two different states?' the typical response I hear back is, 'Yes, but that happens in every election.' The problem is we've heard that for so long that we've become accustomed to [it]," Lankford said.

"We've got to actually seek answers to questions, and people can seek to accept truth or not accept truth, but you've got to be able to get answers to questions."

Lankford accepted that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were the legitimate winners of the election.

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