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Lankford pursuing Senate leadership bid for next Congress

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Sen. James Lankford is pursuing a leadership bid for next Congress, a move that means the top five Senate GOP positions now have candidates.

The Oklahoma senator will run for the vice chair position of the Senate Republican Conference, the No. 5 job in the hierarchy. The current vice chair, Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), is running for the Republican Policy Committee chairmanship, the No. 4 job.

Lankford will announce his bid Wednesday morning and said in a statement that he will “personally ask each of my colleagues for their support in the days ahead.”

“As senators, we were elected to do hard things and to solve problems by doing the right thing, the right way. It is my desire to serve our conference in every way I can as we work together to solve the challenges our nation faces,” Lankford added in a statement to POLITICO confirming his bid.

Earlier this Congress, Lankford was tasked with the toughest job in Washington: Cutting a bipartisan border security deal as a way to unlock Ukraine aid. For weeks, Lankford labored to cut a deal with Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). But when they finally announced it, most Republicans rejected it as former President Donald Trump lobbied against it.

Even so, Lankford was widely praised for his work, and it’s not apparent it’s hurt his standing in the conference. Lankford previously served in the House for two terms, winning a leadership post there before being elected to the Senate in 2014.