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Oklahoma Tea Party leaders not on board with T.W. Shannon

by Chris Casteel Published: April 26, 2014
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Leaders of Oklahoma Tea Party organizations ripped U.S. Senate candidate T.W. Shannon on Friday and said national leaders like Sarah Palin and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz had endorsed Shannon without consulting them or researching his record.
The letter, from leaders of groups like OKC Tea Party and the Tulsa 9.12 Project, was written a day after Palin, Cruz and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee held a rally in Tulsa for Shannon to boost the Lawton Republican’s conservative bona fides.
Written to out-of-state organizations and individuals endorsing Shannon, a state representative, the letter says Shannon “had never stepped foot” in a Tea Party meeting before announcing his run for the last two years of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s term.
“Once he made his announcement he began showing up at meetings with little or no notice. After receiving the endorsements of Governor Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Senate Conservatives Fund, U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, Shannon no longer attends grassroots meetings nor does he seek the grassroots support _ he doesn’t need us.”
Many of the same leaders in January criticized U.S. Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, who is also seeking Coburn’s seat. Oklahoma Tea Party leaders wanted freshman U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, to run for the seat, but he passed.
Trebor Worthen, a spokesman for Shannon’s campaign, said Friday, “Every candidate in this race has their group of supporters. Countless conservative activists throughout the state have volunteered and donated to T.W.’s campaign, including many from local tea party groups and other conservative organizations. And of course they have been reinforced by countless other conservatives across the country who have joined leaders like Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Mike Lee, Governor Sarah Palin and others who are supporting T.W. Shannon for Senate.”
In their letter, the Tea Party leaders suggested Shannon was a “poser” and that he was being “very well handled” to come across as whatever people wanted him to be.
The letter takes a couple of shots at Indian tribes _ Shannon is a Chickasaw _ and U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore; Shannon once worked for Cole, who is also a Chickasaw.
“Your endorsement will not make T.W. Shannon become more conservative, he has too many masters to serve, the Indian tribes, Tom Cole, big business and the Chamber of Commerce,” the letter, signed by over 30 activists, states.

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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