Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) picked up a major conservative endorsement in his bid for the state Senate on Thursday.
The group launched a new website to allow its members to donate directly to Shannon, with plans to raise $50,000 for him — $5,000 of which had already been contributed early Thursday morning.
"T.W. Shannon is a constitutional conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending and debt that are bankrupting our country. T.W. Shannon believes in the principles of freedom that make this country great and will stand up to the big spenders in both parties to balance the budget and stop Obamacare,” wrote SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins in an email.
“We're supporting T.W. Shannon because he's a principled conservative, he has strong grassroots support in Oklahoma, and he can win if Americans come together to support his campaign."
Coburn is known as one of the Senate’s staunchest conservatives, and Republicans pitching themselves as his replacement have sought to convince voters they will take up his conservative mantle.
The endorsement from the conservative group is the latest indication that Shannon may emerge as the conservative pick in the primary.
Former state Sen. Randy Brogdon and Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.), one of the most conservative members of the House, are also in the race. But Lankford's candidacy was universally panned by conservative groups in large part because of his willingness to work with House leadership.
When Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) opted out of the race, it wasn’t clear what candidate conservatives would pick. Some privately mused that Shannon, because of his work as Oklahoma House Speaker, may also be too steeped in the establishment mentality.
Shannon has picked up a number of conservative endorsements, however, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and conservative talk radio host Mark Levin.
Still, a poll conducted in early February for Lankford's campaign showed him ahead of Shannon by 30 points, and it's unclear whether the endorsements have yet closed that cap.