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Lucas will run again, may ask to stay on as chairman

OKLAHOMA CITY — House Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas, R-Okla., said here Sunday that he will run for re-election in 2014, and if that if the farm bill does not pass during this Congress he will ask the House Republican Steering Committee for a waiver from rules so that he can continue as Agriculture committee chairman in the next Congress.

Under House Republican rules, Lucas is scheduled to end his term as top ranking Republican on the committee when this Congress concludes in 2014.

In an exclusive interview with The Hagstrom Report Sunday, Lucas said that he considers the talk in Washington about a two-year extension of the farm bill to be an attempt to slow down consideration of the farm bill so that it would be written under different leadership.

“In the nature of the battle we are engaged in, there may be some folks who have figured out that term limits are a permanent thing in the U.S. House,” Lucas said.

“If the way to prevent the House version of the farm bill from being a big part of the conference committee is to wait me out, they need to understand I mean to finish this bill,” he said.

“I mean to do it now,“ Lucas said, but added that if the farm bill doesn’t pass in this Congress, “if I have to go to the RSC [Republican Steering Committee} and ask for an extension, I will.”

Lucas added that extending his chairmanship so that he can finish the farm bill on which he has worked for so long “is a legitimate issue that the steering committee would have to consider.”

If farm bill opponents “use House Republican rules as a weapon, I will fight on every stage,” he said.

Lucas, 53, said that whether the farm bill is finished in this Congress or not, he will run for re-election because once it is finished he wants to monitor its implementation.

“As everyone knows, as challenging as it is getting [the farm bill passed], implementing it is even more challenging. I will work with the next chairman to make sure the policies get implemented. I’ve learned enough, I’ve picked up enough callouses, I am not walking from these policies.”

The advertising by conservative groups against him has not had a serious impact on his political standing in his district, Lucas said.

“My folks are hanging with me,” he said. “I know that certain elected officials in my district have been called and asked to run against me. When they tell you they have been called, that means they won’t run.”

House Agriculture Committee ranking member Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has also said that conservative advertising against him makes him more likely to seek re-election.

Lucas also commented on the Republican Study Committee’s recent decision to ban employees of the Heritage Foundation from future meetings because the group asked the Republicans to split the farm bill into two pieces and still did not support the farm-program-only bill.

“I appreciate where the leadership of the RSC was coming from,” Lucas said. “I think sometimes that members really need to take control of their own destiny, and in this situation they did.”

Lucas is scheduled to speak today to the Southwest Ag Issues Summit that started here on Sunday and continues until Tuesday.