Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) on Wednesday made his first endorsement in a GOP primary this year, throwing his support to Oklahoma Senate candidate T.W. Shannon (R).
“T.W. embodies the American dream. I’m proud to offer T.W. my enthusiastic endorsement because not only will he vote the right way, but he’ll stand up and fight with us in the Senate to stop President Obama’s assault on our liberties and defend America’s founding principles.”
Cruz will be appearing at an April 24 rally for Shannon in Tulsa, alongside Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who have both endorsed Shannon.
The endorsement from Cruz comes in spite of his role as vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is officially neutral in open primaries. Cruz has indicated before that he plans to make his own endorsements, however.
Shannon is running in the special election to complete the term of Sen. Tom Coburn (R), who is stepping down at the end of the year. His main opponent is Rep. James Lankford (R), who is regarded as the establishment pick due to his ties to party leadership in the House.
Early polling has shown Lankford with a significant but shrinking lead.
Shannon was the first black Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives; he resigned the post in February after entering the primary. His heritage, which also includes Chickasaw ancestry, has helped make him a rising star in the GOP, and three weeks ago he picked up the endorsement of the Tea Party-aligned Senate Conservatives Fund.
Oklahoma is solidly Republican, so the seat is expected to remain under Republican control regardless of who triumphs in the June 24 primary.