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Local News

January 30, 2014

Shannon’s decision has legislative roles in limbo

DUNCAN — Oklahoma House Majority Leader Dennis Johnson thinks House Speaker T.W. Shannon may resign his post as speaker because the job is so time-consuming it would be difficult to wage an effective campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Shannon announced Wednesday he will seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat to be vacated by Tom Coburn at the end of the year.

The Oklahoma Legislature on Monday will convene its annual session, with Shannon at the helm of the House of Representatives.

Johnson, a former mayor of Duncan and a close ally of Shannon, said Wednesday he thinks Shannon will make his intentions known fairly early in the legislative session.

“I don’t know which way it will go,” he said. “It will make it kind of an interesting session.”

Johnson, who was named House Majority Leader by Shannon last year,  thinks the time demands of the speaker’s role could prove to be too much for Shannon, who will face U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Edmond, and two others in the Republican primary for the U.S. Senate nomination.

Shannon, however, would be unlikely to resign  during the first two weeks of the legislative session, which focuses mainly on getting lawmakers reacquainted with the law-making process, Johnson said.

If Shannon chooses to resign as speaker, House Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Jackson, R-Enid, would move into the position.

Jackson is one of several people who has expressed interest in running for the speaker position, Johnson said.

“If he (Shannon) resigns before March 1, there would have to be a special election,” Johnson said. “The governor would probably delay the special election until November. The House pro tempore would move up to speaker until there was a vote for a new speaker.”

If Jackson became speaker, it would leave the pro tempore position vacant.

Johnson said he would be interested in that job along with several other Republican lawmakers.

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