T.W. Shannon, a Lawton Republican first elected in 2006 and an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, was elected by the caucus as House speaker-designate, meaning that if House Republicans maintain a majority after the 2012 elections, Shannon will be next in line to replace term-limited Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee.
Shannon, 33, will not only be the first black speaker in state history, but one of the youngest as well. Shannon is not term limited until 2018.
Shannon reportedly faced off against current Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, and Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, for the post.
Im obviously privileged and honored that my colleagues would think enough of me to entrust me with this responsibility, Shannon said. Im focused right now on uniting our caucus. It was a spirited campaign. But were all united on the same page to move Oklahoma forward.
Shannons name has been mentioned with possibly running for speaker for several months, along with Hickman, Majority Floor Leader Dan Sullivan and Muskogee Republican George Faught. Sullivan recently was named as head of the Grand River Dam Authority and Faught threw his hat in the ring to run for the 2nd Congressional District seat being vacated by Democrat Dan Boren.
The House will be in good hands under Rep. Shannons leadership, Steele said in a release. T.W. is a dynamic and capable leader who will continue to work hard for the state of Oklahoma. I look forward to begin working with him to ensure a smooth leadership transition next year.
Shannon looks forward to working with Steele and the rest of the House in the coming months, according to a media release.
I was extremely humbled by the support shown by my colleagues today, Shannon said in a release. I am excited and ready to stand behind Speaker Steele to help grow our majority in the coming election and assist in advancing a conservative agenda that will make Oklahoma a destination to live, work and raise a family.
Shannon received mostly praise from several different public figures, both Republican and Democrat.
right, Shannon talks with Oklahoma Gazette reporter Clifton Adcock at Mitt Romney's fundraiser in Oklahoma City on Oct. 21.
On behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, I would like to congratulate Rep. T.W. Shannon on his election as House speaker-designate, House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said in a statement. I look forward to working with him to find common-sense, middle-of-the-road solutions to Oklahomas problems. Together, we must reject overtly partisan agendas, stand up to the fringe elements of the political process and, in a bipartisan manner, focus on ensuring Oklahomas economy remains strong and attracts new jobs, improving public education and protecting our most vulnerable citizens.
State GOP Chairman Matt Pinnell said Shannons election refutes insinuations of racism in Oklahoma following John McCains overwhelming 77-county sweep of the state.
Oklahomans can be confident in T.W.s integrity and leadership as speaker for the 54th Legislature, and I have no doubt he will be a conservative voice on the national level as well, said Pinnell. I look forward to working with speaker-designate Shannon as we continue to further the conservative message of strong family values, a vibrant free-market economy and lower taxes and government spending right here in Oklahoma.
Shannon is a third-generation Lawtonian and sixth-generation Oklahoman. He has served in the Legislature since 2006 as representative for House District 62. Shannon also worked as a congressional staffer for U.S. Reps. Tom Cole and J.C. Watts.
Shannon and his wife, Devon, are parents of a son, Tahrohon Wayne II, and daughter, Audrey Grace. Shannon has a bachelor of arts in communications from Cameron University and holds a juris doctorate from Oklahoma City University.
Photos by Matt Carney