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June 1, 2014

T.W. Shannon says he has more than just a record of rhetoric

DUNCAN — State Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, stopped in at The Duncan Banner for a question-and-answer session on Thursday.

The 36-year-old lawmaker was elected to the Oklahoma House in 2006 and quickly rose into a leadership position. He became speaker of the House in January 2013 but stepped down from that positon this year to run for the U.S. Senate seat that will be vacated by Tom Coburn at the end of the year.

Recent polls show Shannon and U.S. Rep. James Lankford of Edmond in a close race for the lead, with former State Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso a distant third.

Question: What’s a typical day like during this campaign?

Shannon: “I’m an early riser so I do most of my emails usually before 5:30 or 6 in the morning. It drives the staff crazy. But I’m the guy up getting that done. We spend a lot of time, frankly, on the phone asking for money. That’s a big part of it. There’s also the retail politics aspect of it. This (last) weekend we were at Grand Lake. That same period of time we were in Claremore, drove down to Ardmore the same day, so there is no typical day. Where two or three are gathered, we’re in the mix.

“I’ve got young kids, so I still, on most nights, where it’s possible, I still try to drive back to Lawton to be home, which takes up a lot of time, so we spend a lot of time on the phones while we’re in the car, too.”

Question: Randy Brogdon says he’s the real conservative in the Republican Primary. What do you say to that?

Shannon: “Who?” (Laughs) ...

“They (the voters) know I have a conservative record. Not just a record of rhetoric. I think there’s a difference. We have a record of moving conservative principles into ideas and legislation. That’s what differentiates me between others in the race.”

Question: Do you think there will be a runoff?

Shannon: “We’ve always anticipated a runoff and I think we’re strongest in a runoff. Your runoff voters tend to be the most conservative voters and your most consistent voters. I think our message of limited government, whether it was from creating the first-ever States Rights Committee or even our efforts as one of the first legislatures in the country to nullify Obamacare, pushing back the Obamacare Medicaid expansion (will appeal to runoff voters). They tend to be very socially conservative and very fiscally conservative.”

Question: What’s the biggest issue on the minds of voters?

Shannon: “The most important thing in the race right now, that people are talking about across the state, is the debt. Almost $18 trillion is what the United States debt is. People are concerned about that. And they’re concerned about politicians that continue to go to Washington, D.C., and vote to raise the debt. I made a vow in this campaign that I won’t vote to raise the debt. We need to be finding ways to reduce the debt. As Speaker, it was one of the issues I came under fire from the media for, because I refused to do more bond indebtedness. We stood against it. Even though Oklahoma has relatively low bond indebtedness, it doesn’t mean we have low debt. We still have a very high pension liability. That’s why I stood against adding more debt. Government needs to learn to live within its means.”

Question: What else are you talking about in this campaign?

Shannon: “Making sure we’re focused on our mililtary. The world is a safer place when America is strong. What we’ve seen from this president is this Congress continued to allow the military to be drawn down. Right now we have a situation where our friends don’t trust us and our enemies don’t fear us. We need to change that. It’s the one area of spending I actually think we need to increase. We’ve seen the president basically disarming America by drawing down the troop sizes and also the military budget.”

Question: What did you think about the gross production tax that was passed and signed by the governor?

Shannon: “It was probably, overall,  the best deal we could have gotten now...I like the fact we got equity between horizontal and lateral drilling. That fight has divided the industry for years and the fact that we united it, I think it was a decent proposal that keeps Oklahoma competitive with the rest of the nation. It was one, I think, the industry supported, so I felt pretty good about it.”

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