With Senator Tom Coburn resigning his seat at the end of the year, the battle is on for Republicans in Oklahoma for who will replace him. If elected, T. W. Shannon would become the third African American in the U.S. Senate.
The announcement by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn that he is resigning his seat at the end of the year has set up a spirited battle among Oklahoma Republicans to replace him.
Leading the pack are Rep. James Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. At age 36, Shannon is an up-and-coming star in the GOP, and if elected he would become the third African-American in the Senate — two of them Republicans.
On Saturday night, the Comanche County Republican Party held its annual barbecue. Along with the ribs and potato salad there was an auction, and of course, politicking, from candidates for everything from state representative to U.S. Senate.
T.W. Shannon was there, signing T-shirts.
His arrival was a bit delayed after a late flight from a fundraiser he attended in Florida. Shannon is riding a wave right now: His Senate candidacy has been endorsed by Sarah Palin and also by the Senate Conservatives Fund. He was a featured panelist at the recent CPAC conference outside Washington. But he says he’s most happy here in Lawton, with his family and friends.
“This is my hometown. My house is just 2 miles west of here,” Shannon said.
So what does he want to go to Washington for?
“I’m concerned about the direction of the party. I’m concerned that if we continue the trajectory that we’re on, that my kids and grandkids are going to inherit a lower standard of living than I did. I hope to go to Washington, D.C., and teach the rest of the politicians there that conservative principles are what lead to prosperity,” he said.
Among those conservative principles, Shannon sponsored a measure to require able-bodied food stamp recipients in Oklahoma to work 20 hours a week. Shannon downplays his ethnicity — he is African-American and part Chickasaw Indian.
“Yeah, my heritage is a part of who I am but it doesn’t define who I am and it certainly doesn’t limit me and that’s what the Republican Party is about. It’s about freedom and liberty,” he said.