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Oklahoma House speaker moves toward Senate race, while Frank Keating downplays interest

A field of candidates to succeed the departing Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn has yet to take shape.
by Chris Casteel Modified: January 24, 2014 at 6:20 pm •  Published: January 24, 2014

photo - Sen. Tom Coburn
Sen. Tom Coburn

— Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating downplayed his interest Friday in the state's open U.S. Senate seat, while sources said House Speaker T.W. Shannon was moving toward entering the race next week.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, who has also been considering the race, continues to say that he's in no hurry to make a decision. In an interview with radio talk show host Laura Ingraham this week, Bridenstine suggested that Rep. James Lankford, the Oklahoma City Republican who is running for Senate, had become part of the problem in Washington.

Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, announced just over a week ago that he would leave the Senate at the end of the congressional session, leaving two years on his term.

Coburn's decision has set off chain reactions throughout Oklahoma politics, particularly relating to Lankford's seat. Some reactions may be premature.

Even before Shannon, R-Lawton, enters the race, some state House members are trying to line up support to be the next speaker, according to an Associated Press report.

However, a source close to Shannon said Friday the speaker has made no plans to give up his post if he enters the Senate race.

Several sources said Shannon is planning to announce as a candidate for the Senate by the middle of next week, though they cautioned that the speaker could still change his mind.

Politico reported Thursday that Keating, now the president and CEO of the American Bankers Association in Washington, was mulling the race.

But in an interview Friday, Keating said he wasn't leaning toward a run.

Noting that he turns 70 next month, Keating said, “I don't need, nor do I want a new career.”

Keating said he was more interested in the work he does for nonprofit organizations. He praised Shannon and Lankford and said he would likely make a statement next week on the race.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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