Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon is reportedly taking steps aimed at running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of fellow Republican Tom Coburn.
According to The Hill, Shannon has formed an exploratory committee
to help him decide.
The 35 year-old attorney, who has been named one of four rising stars in the party by Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus, has received dozens of calls encouraging him to run, The Hill reported Tuesday. If he does, he would offer Republican conservatives an alternative to U.S. Rep. James Lankford, who has already thrown his hat into the ring, the newspaper noted.
But Lankford may not be conservative enough for tea party-affiliated groups that are fielding candidates to run in GOP primaries across the country, many of them against GOP incumbents.
Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins, for example, said in a statement that based on Lankford's record in Congress, "it's clear that conservatives cannot count on him to fight for their principles."
The fund is pushing U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine to run for the Coburn seat, The Hill reported. Bridenstine, who would probably have the backing of wealthy conservative groups around the country, has yet to decide whether to seek re-election or enter the Senate race.
Political observers say that if both Shannon and Bridenstine compete in the primary the conservative vote could be split making it easier for Lankford to capture the nomination. But others see the primary ending in a runoff that would pit Lankford against a more conservative opponent, The Hill reported.
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