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Tom Coburn takes on the Senate Conservatives Fund

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) is fed up with the groups attacking Rep. James Lankford (R) in the race to replace him in the Senate. So he's speaking out.

In a statement on Thursday, Coburn defended Lankford against television ads from a pair of groups backing Republican T.W. Shannon, a former Oklahoma House speaker running to Lankford's right.

"The current political advertisements by groups such as Senate Conservatives Fund and Oklahomans for a Conservative Future supporting T.W. Shannon have crossed an important line -- they simply aren’t truthful, and they mischaracterize James Lankford’s service in Congress," Coburn said in the statement.

Coburn's statement is unorthodox; he technically hasn't endorsed anyone in the contest. But with under two weeks left until the primary, vouching for Lankford is sure to stir the pot in a race that has received lots of national attention from tea party groups and figures.

Ads from the organizations Coburn singled out have slammed Lankford as being a "Washington insider" who has voted to fund Obamacare, among other things.

"James Lankford is in House leadership and has voted for wasteful spending, higher taxes," said Senate Conservatives Fund President Ken Cuccinelli in a statement accompanying a new ad this week. Cuccinelli, the former attorney general of Virginia and candidate for governor there, was announced as the group's new leader this week.

The primary is June 24.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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