Okla. Speaker to launch Senate bid

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon will launch his Senate bid on Wednesday with a series of kickoff events in the state, a source close to Shannon tells The Hill.

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He’ll face off against Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) in the primary, who jumped in the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) last week. The seat is safely Republican, so the focus will largely be on the GOP primary.

Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) is also considering a run, but he hasn’t yet announced his decision.

Shannon said in a release issued Tuesday that he’s “blown away” by the level of encouragement he’s seen for his potential Senate run.

The Hill first reported last week that Shannon formed an exploratory committee for the Oklahoma special Senate race to replace Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who will retire at the end of the year.

The speaker released a list of 34 Oklahoma business leaders and public figures that are serving on the exploratory committee on Tuesday. The list includes the likes of former Holy See ambassador Francis Rooney, a major Republican donor who contributed $1 million to a pro-Mitt Romney super-PAC and maintains Bush and Romney ties.

Shannon said in a release the response to his interest in the race has “truly been overwhelming.”

“When I first began to think and pray on the race, I never imagined this level of support. I am so thankful to the men and women who have joined my exploratory committee, and I am thankful for the countless others who have offered support and donated,” he said.

Shannon only reveals that he’ll “make an announcement some time this week” in the release, but the source said he’ll make it official Wednesday.