Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon announced Tuesday morning he immediately will resign his position as speaker so he can pursue the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn.
“I'm here to announce today that this will be my last day to serve as the speaker of the House,” Shannon told follow House members in a speech delivered from a podium on the House floor. “I recently announced that I'm running for the United States Senate and I don't believe it would be fair to you or to the people of this great state for me to remain speaker of the House while running a statewide campaign.”
Shannon, a Republican, will continue to serve as a state representative from Lawton.
Shannon's announcement means a three-way race to succeed him as speaker will now shift into high gear.
House Speaker Pro Tem Mike Jackson, R-Enid; state Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma; and state Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, have been lobbying fellow House members for their votes behind the scenes ever since it became clear Shannon was running for U.S. Senate and would likely step down as speaker.
It was unclear Tuesday how long it will take House members to elect a new speaker.
Shannon used his speaker resignation speech to tout his conservative politics and accomplishments as speaker.
“I've always said that being conservative simply means just doing the things that your grandmother taught you to do,” he said. “My very first session, we had the honor to vote for the largest tax cut in state history. The very next session, we supported another tax cut.”
Shannon listed passage of workers' compensation reform and his “100 percent anti-abortion voting record” among his major achievements.
Shannon's speech, which lasted several minutes, sounded too much like a political stump speech to suit state Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City.
Calling Shannon's remarks a “thinly veiled campaign speech,” Reynolds questioned from the House floor whether the speech was appropriate under House rules, and later scheduled a news conference to elaborate on his objections.
Shannon, 35, was first elected to the House in 2006 and served one year as speaker. He was the state's first black speaker.