Sparks of hope: Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District Primary, Last Words: Micah 6:8
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Published: 20-Jun-2014

“Rev. Harvey Sparks will not win the Republican primary in the Fifth District Congressional race in central Oklahoma.” Well, maybe that’s right.

People said the same thing about James Lankford four years ago.

He not only led the first round, he overwhelmed his last opponent in the runoff, and has served four years in the U.S. House.

Now, Lankford wants to replace Tom Coburn. A new focus for the former Baptist youth camp administrator opened up opportunities now being pursued by a total of six Republicans and two Democrats.

Sparks comfortably laces faith into his campaign narrative -- Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly.

The reference is to what an Old Testament prophet said is owed to a Loving God: “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (New King James Version Micah 6:8)

Sparks told CapitolBeatOK, “The three major issues are the debt and deficit, government overreach and gridlock in Washington.” With that, he pushes the same primary theme as opponents.

He walks with the data, no problem: “With $17.5 trillion in debt, and annual deficits that continue to hover around $500 billion, the reality is that we are headed for a crash because you cannot survive on sustained debt. The longer we wait to deal with it the harder it is going to be to control how we actually deal with it. 

We need to cut spending significantly and move to a balanced budget.”

He reflects, justly, “Government overreach is seen in education, healthcare and overregulation. The Constitution grants Congress very specific powers and they don't include managing our healthcare or education. We need people in Washington who can articulate an original understanding of Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution and push back against the continued growth of the federal government.

And mercy, for those with whom he disagrees: “We have to deal with the gridlock. I don't think it comes from the difference in ideology because we have always had that.

 I think it comes from the tone and rhetoric in Washington.

“We need people who approach governing with humility and know something about building consensus. As long as we are calling each other enemies, we will never get anything substantial accomplished.”

Rev.Sparks has pastored churches in Oklahoma City, Norman and Tulsa. He gained knowledge of Congress on the D.C. staff of U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa.

Challenging his humility, this reporter asked Sparks to make the case for himself, over the one woman and four men everyone expects to beat him:

“I am different in a couple of ways. First, I have committed myself to being a citizen legislator. I have committed to serving only three terms. We don't need career politicians but real people who see public service as just that ... service.

“No one has a monopoly on all the good ideas and so I have committed myself to serving my three terms and then getting out of the way to let some other great Oklahoman do their part.”

Further, “I have committed myself to voting against any legislation that increases the debt. I have committed myself to supporting the Fair Tax. I have committed myself to supporting only conservative leadership in the House, meaning that I won't support John Boehner as Speaker.”

Wrapping up, Sparks reflects, “In this race, I am the only one that has not held public office. I have spent my career in service in the local church, on the mission field in Africa and in Washington as an aide.

“My background in the church has given me plenty of experience in building consensus. You cannot lead a church by decree but you have to have a vision and a plan and be able to articulate that plan. The same is true in Washington.

“You can't force other members to vote your way and so you have to do it by convincing them through good logic. I have been effective in building consensus in the church and, having spent time in Washington, I believe I can do it there as well.”

This concludes a series on the six Republicans and two Democrats who seek to replace Rep. Lankford. Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly. Vote.

You may contact Pat: patrick@capitolbeatok.com .

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