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Megachurches Prove Mega-Influential in GOP Primaries

Collins, left, is a Georgia Republican and former senior pastor at his church. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The influence of religious conservatives might be waning nationwide, but the movement only stands to grow in Congress.  

Already this year, three candidates with close ties to massive churches won decisive Republican primaries. A fourth — Pastor Jody Hice — could win a Tuesday GOP primary runoff in Georgia and come to Congress in November.  

How James Lankford Won Big in Oklahoma (Video)

Lankford will likely come to the Senate next year. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James Lankford had momentum  on his side Tuesday, when the Republican captured the GOP nomination  outright and avoided a costly runoff.  

The big surprise? His massive 23-point margin of victory over T.W. Shannon, who had been hailed as a rising GOP superstar.  

Oklahoma Primary Results: Lankford Wins Senate Nomination (Updated)

Lankford is a Republican from Oklahoma. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 9:54 p.m. |  Rep. James Lankford has won the Oklahoma primary, and now the Republican is likely headed to the Senate.  

The Oklahoman defeated former state Speaker T.W. Shannon and several lesser-known candidates to win the Republican nomination Tuesday. In the strongly conservative state of Oklahoma, Lankford is all but certain to become the next senator after November.  

6 Things to Watch in Tuesday's Primaries

As part of Tuesday's primaries, Cochran, center, faces a tea-party-challenger in a runoff. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mississippi Republicans and New York Democrats face a similar quandary  Tuesday: Hold onto an old political hand and his seniority in Congress, or turn the page to a new era?  

Rep. Charles B. Rangel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., have challenges from their own party that headline this week's bevy of primaries — the last crop of contests until later this summer. Beyond the fate of these two longtime pols, Tuesday's results will test a House GOP program for female candidates in primaries, as well as decide a handful of races in Colorado, Florida and New York.  

Lankford Builds Momentum in Oklahoma Senate Race

Lankford is running for Senate in Oklahoma. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Don't call it a comeback. Rep. James Lankford was always there.  

But the Oklahoma Republican's Senate bid has picked up momentum ahead of Tuesday's primary, which now looks likely proceed to a runoff, giving Lankford his clearest shot at the open seat.  

T.W. Shannon Makes Final Airwaves Push Before Primary

Lankford faces T.W. Shannon in the June 24 Senate primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon has debuted two new ads in the last week before the Senate GOP primary: a positive spot touting his credentials, plus an ad featuring former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla. Shannon and Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., are locked a tight GOP primary on June 24  that will likely head to an August runoff if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is stepping down at the end of this Congress, creating this contentious special election for his seat.  

In Shannon's positive spot, provided to CQ Roll Call, Shannon speaks directly to the camera.  

Lankford Led Shannon in Oklahoma Senate Pre-Primary Fundraising

Lankford is running in the June 24 Senate primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Rep. James Lankford headed into the final three weeks of the Oklahoma Republican Senate primary with more than double the cash on hand of his top opponent, state Speaker T.W. Shannon.  

Shannon and Lankford are locked in a tight battle to succeed Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, who is resigning at the end of this Congress. The winner of the June 24 primary — or Aug. 26 runoff — will be heavily favored in the November special election to serve out the remaining two years of Coburn's term.  

Cheat Sheet: House and Senate Primaries in June

McDaniel is challenging Cochran in the June primary. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

After a relatively unsurprising  series of primaries this month , June brings another collection of intraparty contests. More than half  of the states will have selected their nominees by the end of the month. Republicans will pick nominees in key Senate races in Mississippi , Iowa and South Dakota. Down the ballot, House primaries in several open seats will likely determine the future members of Congress from both parties.  

Here is Roll Call’s comprehensive look at watch to watch in June. Bookmark this page, and check out our primary map for results from past primaries. June 3 With primaries in eight states, this date marks the busiest night of the cycle.  

Ted Cruz Endorses Candidate in Oklahoma Senate Race

   

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, endorsed former state Speaker T.W. Shannon in Oklahoma's Senate special election, marking the latest tea party leader to back his candidacy in the Sooner State.