T.W. Shannon, the first black speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives, also is drawing national attention because he is the only black Republican speaker in the country.
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell said Friday that Shannon, R-Lawton, will be asked to speak across the country on behalf of the Republican National Party to show its diversity.
“We're trying to get Speaker Shannon on the surrogate list with the RNC to be speaking in other states and helping them with a more diverse Republican outreach in their states,” Pinnell said.
While Oklahoma Republicans are faring well, it's not the case nationwide. November's loss by GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been blamed partly on his failure to attract black, Hispanic and Asian voters as well as not exciting young voters.
“We need to own that,” Pinnell said. “That's nothing to distance ourselves from, that sort of challenge. There's no doubt that we have work to do there on the national level. At the state level, we feel like that we're doing a very good job competing, especially with our youth vote.”
Shannon, 34, is a striking contrast to the Nov. 6 presidential election results, Pinnell said.
The Republican National Committee is excited about Shannon, who is expected to be officially elected House speaker in January, Pinnell said after hosting a Facebook town hall meeting with Shannon sponsored by the Oklahoma Republican Party.
He spoke by a streaming live video feed from the GOP headquarters in Oklahoma City and answered questions posed on the party's Facebook page.