Shannon is the youngest House speaker in Oklahoma history, and the first African-American House speaker in Oklahoma history. But it’s the latter that has real political weight, and what he’s remembered for—even if he doesn’t make a point of emphasizing it.
“As an Oklahoman, I am proud that we have an African-American—first ever—as speaker of the state House,” former Republican Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating told The Daily Beast, without having been asked about race (Keating hasn’t endorsed either candidate and also spoke highly of Shannon’s main primary opponent, James Lankford). “In the case of Shannon, to be one of two African-Americans [Republicans] in the U.S. Senate… that would be a great statement for civil rights and civil justice.”
Polling shows Shannon lagging behind Lankford, but if Lankford doesn’t get a majority at the polls in the seven-way race Tuesday, it’s likely the two will proceed to a runoff.
Should Shannon survive Tuesday’s election, secure the nomination in a runoff, and be elected to the Senate, he will be catapulted almost instantly to national fame, as the third African-American currently in that body and a popular tea party symbol.
Tahrohon Wayne Shannon’s rise to competiveness against Lankford, a two-term Congressman with a similar ideological temperament, was aided by powerful endorsements from national tea party figures like Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz. Last month, Palin made a not-so-subtle point that illustrated one of the reasons why Shannon could spring to broader prominence.
SOURCE: Tim Mak