Southern Baptist representation in Congress dropped as a result of the Nov. 4 election.
The House of Representatives will include 30 Southern Baptists when the next Congress convenes in January. That will be four fewer than in the current House. The Senate will remain the same at six Southern Baptists, with one Southern Baptist replacing another.
Rep. James Lankford, who has served four years in the House, easily gained election to the Senate seat from Oklahoma vacated by a fellow Southern Baptist, Sen. Tom Coburn. Coburn announced in January he would step down at the end of the year, leaving two years remaining in his term.
Lankford, a Republican, outpolled Democrat Connie Johnson in the special election with 556,382 to 237,531 votes or 68 to 29 percent. Lankford, the GOP Policy Committee chairman in the House, was the director of the Falls Creek Youth Camp for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma for 13 years before his 2010 election to Congress. He is a member of Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.
In the House, Southern Baptist Rep. Steve Southerland of Florida lost in his re-election bid Nov. 4. Two others — Reps. Paul Broun of Georgia and Steve Stockman of Texas — failed in GOP primaries for the Senate earlier this year. Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas left his seat to run for lieutenant governor, a race he won. Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama retired, effective the end of this term. Rep. Marlin Stutzman of Indiana left his membership in Community Baptist Church in South Bend, Ind., earlier this year.
Southern Baptists held 40 seats in Congress after the 2012 election, reaching what appears to have been the largest Southern Baptist contingent ever on Capitol Hill.
Baptist Press has learned of the following Southern Baptists, all Republicans, who won first-time election to the House:
— Mark Walker won in North Carolina’s 6th District, defeating Laura Fjeld, a Democrat, with 146,329 to 103,085 votes or 59 to 41 percent. Walker served for about 15 years in a variety of pastoral roles. Most recently, he was associate pastor of music and worship at Greensboro’s Lawndale Baptist Church, where he is still a member.
— Jody Hice took Georgia’s 10th District seat, winning against Democrat Ken Dious with 130,572 to 65,676 votes or 67 to 33 percent. Hice served churches in Georgia for nearly 25 years, most recently as pastor of The Summit Church in Loganville. Hice remains a member of the church.
— Steve Russell replaced Lankford in Oklahoma’s 5th District by defeating Al McAffrey, a Democrat, with 95,557 to 57,721 votes or 60 to 36 percent. Russell is a member of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press