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Incoming Oklahoma House speaker drawing national attention

T.W. Shannon will be the only black Republican speaker in the country when he officially gets elected to the post next month.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: December 15, 2012
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Pinnell said it is interesting that Shannon is following his mentor, J.C. Watts, the former Oklahoma congressman. Shannon worked on Watts' staff.

“J.C. was really, if not the leader, one of the top-tier Republican African-Americans in the country and I have no doubt that T.W. Shannon is going to follow in his footsteps,” he said.

Pinnell, during the 30-minute Internet program, asked Shannon if he felt more pressure because of the national attention he is getting.

“It's an honor anytime you can hopefully change maybe the conversation,” Shannon said.

“But my real focus and the real burden I have is from the people of District 62 to make sure that I'm representing the values that they sent me to Oklahoma City to represent and now as speaker-elect, my focus expands a little.

Certainly we're going to be looking statewide about what are the issues that are most important to Oklahomans.

“We know that Oklahoma … is the reddest state in the nation,” he said. “We're a conservative state. We expect a conservative, pro-growth, limited government agenda and I think that's what we're going to have.

“Oklahoma has always been a place of opportunity,” Shannon said. “It's never mattered and it should have never mattered what you looked like or where you came from. If you're willing to work hard, if you're willing to adopt the values that are important to this area, you can do well in this state and that needs to be our message.”