Patrick B. McGuigan
OKLAHOMA CITY – As he seeks the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, former state Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, points hopefully to last week’s primary defeat of U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
“I think the historic loss of the House majority leader in Virginia shows that voters across the country are fed up with the policies of more debt and more spending. Here in Oklahoma, I hear the same message from conservatives: stop the debt, control the spending, and balance the budget,” Shannon told Oklahoma Watchdog this week.
“Anyone who has been in DC voting to raise the debt limit and increase our spending is going to have a tough time explaining that record to voters,” Shannon continued.
The latter is a reference to U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, his leading foe for the GOP nod, who during his four years in Congress has twice voted to increase the debt ceiling.
Oklahoma Watchdog’s next question – “Make the case for your election over your opponents” – echoes, Shannon said, the query he receives most often in candidate forums and fundraising stops around the Sooner State: “What’s the difference between you and your opponent?”
“There are real differences between Congressman Lankford and myself when it comes to our record on debt and spending. My campaign has focused on my conservative record as Speaker and Congressman Lankford's record of voting to increase America's debt limit. This is a fact that clearly differentiates us, because as Speaker of the Oklahoma House I opposed all debt.”
A third candidate in the race -- former state Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso -- calls attention to increased state spending” during Shannon’s 13 months as speaker, Shannon, now near the end of his fourth term at the state Capitol, Shannon insists “as Speaker of the Oklahoma House I opposed all debt.”
An African-American and enrolled member of the Chickasaw Indian Nation, if nominated and elected in November, the 36-year old would be the first black U.S. Senator from Oklahoma, and only the second to win a statewide election (J.C. Watts served on the state Corporation Commission before winning the Fourth Congressional seat in 1994)
For just more than a year, Shannon ran a Republican caucus with 71 members, bringing home a balanced budget and achieving several conservative policy objectives, while pressing unsuccessfully for immediate income tax reductions.
Looking to his potential service in the Senate, Shannon says, “America is at a crossroads and we simply cannot sustain the endless debt that threatens our economy and is burying future generations.”
His ardent rhetoric has drawn national support from leading conservatives, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and former Alaska Gov. Pallin, as well as former U.S. Rep. Watts.
“As Speaker of the House here in Oklahoma, I vowed that our state would not go down the path of Washington, D.C. Instead, we reduced our debt and kept spending in line,” Shannon said.
Now, Tahrohan Wayne Shannon is promising voters he will do the same in the nation’s capital.