Throughout his nine years in office, state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, has been a pain in the side of his own party’s legislative leadership.
Now he’d like to be one on a bigger scale.
Dahm formally announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday by attacking the state’s elected Republican leadership and promising to “advance” gun rights and restrictions on abortion, individual rights except for those of women with unwanted pregnancies and states’ rights except for some election laws.
He also said he’ll take on the national debt.
Dahm joins a 2022 GOP primary field that includes incumbent James Lankford and Jackson Lahmeyer, another firebrand Republican.
Lahmeyer was so upset by Dahm’s entry that he issued a statement that essentially accused Dahm of being in league with Lankford and the national GOP establishment.
Lahmeyer said it was a “’dirty trick’ … coaxing a third ‘spoiler’ candidate into the Senate primary in order to divide the anti-establishment, America First primary voters.”
Perhaps with that in mind, Dahm began his announcement by listing some of the times he’s gone against Senate leadership and been stripped of committee leadership and other positions as a result.
“Republican leadership has failed us at almost every level of government,” Dahm said. “If you look at the national level at our current leaders, if you look at the state level at our current leaders — if you want to call them leaders, because they’re not leaders, at least not leading in defense of our rights and liberties.”
Dahm excluded Broken Arrow Mayor Debra Wimpee, who led her city’s resistance to mask mandates, and Vice Mayor Christi Gillespie, both of whom spoke on behalf of Dahm on Tuesday.
Dahm, who was reelected last year to a final state Senate term ending in 2024, said he will continue to advocate for fewer restrictions on gun ownership and possession, push for more restrictive abortion laws, and be guided by the principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
He said there are “three things that have to be fixed” — “election integrity,” including a “national voter ID,” securing and closing the borders, and the national debt.
The first two are intertwined, Dahm said, because “Democrats want those people here to be able to vote for them. We know they will use them in their fraudulent election schemes.”
Dahm said a national voter ID is necessary “to make it harder for Democrats to cheat.”
In fact, no widespread voter fraud by either party has been uncovered in decades. The most serious case during that time involved a Bladen County, North Carolina, Republican operative who collected and completed absentee ballots belonging to unwary voters, apparently through several election cycles.
In any event, Tuesday’s announcement further highlights the competition within the Oklahoma Republican Party to prove who is the most conservative — and perhaps redefine the term itself. Dahm and Lahmeyer attack Lankford from the right, saying he is not conservative enough; no one is coming at Lankford from the left or even the middle, not even a Democrat.
Lahmeyer has called COVID-19 the “scamdemic.” Dahm wants to jail Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Dahm did not mention Lankford on Tuesday, or even Lahmeyer.
“I am the one with a record,” Dahm said.
He does have a record of standing up to authority, but he also has a record of making sexual innuendos about Vice President Kamala Harris. His record also shows his lack of appeal to this point outside his Broken Arrow legislative district. In 2010 and 2018 congressional races, Dahm failed to make it out of the first primary round.
Asked who will support him this time in a statewide race, Dahm said, “The people of Oklahoma who want a fighter.”