TULSA — Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon formally announced his candidacy Wednesday for the GOP race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat, moments after another Republican hopeful said he won't run.
Shannon, R-Lawton, is seeking the Senate seat held by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who is stepping down two years early at the end of this congressional term.
“Over the last six years, I have seen so many of our rights and freedoms under assault, it makes me seriously concerned about what kind of country my children will inherit,” Shannon told a crowd at the Tulsa Historical Society.
Minutes earlier, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine released a statement saying he wouldn't run for the open seat.
“Since Dr. Tom Coburn's retirement announcement, I have been honored and overwhelmed by encouragement to succeed him as Oklahoma's senator,” Bridenstine said.
“After giving this matter serious consideration and prayer, my family and I have decided I will not to run in the special election to complete Dr. Coburn's term,” Bridenstine said.
Bridenstine was elected to the U.S. House in 2012 after upsetting Republican incumbent Rep. John Sullivan in the primary.
Shannon will join two-term U.S. Rep. James Lankford and two others in the race for the Republican nomination.
No Democrats have formally announced. A Democrat has not been elected to an open U.S. Senate seat in Oklahoma since David Boren in 1978 and Republicans are heavily favored to maintain this one.