J.C. Watts decries negative attacks in Oklahoma

Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R) launched two new ads in a last-minute push for support before Oklahoma's Republican Senate primary June 24, one a positive ad touting his plans for office and another featuring former Rep. J.C. Watts (R-Okla.) decrying negative attacks.

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Shannon is locked in a tight battle with Rep. James Lankford (Okla.) for the GOP nomination for retiring Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) seat.

The Watts spot hits back at a negative ad launched by a pro-Lankford group that accuses Shannon of voting “for higher debt” and for expanding “Medicaid for the same special interest that employed” him, during his time in the legislature.

In the new Shannon ad, Watts, who has endorsed Shannon, encourages voters not to believe the “false attacks” against the candidate. His comments are reminiscent of those made by Coburn last week slamming negative ads aired by pro-Shannon groups for “crossing an important line." While Coburn stopped short of endorsing Lankford, he strongly praised the candidate, likely giving him a boost in the primary.

Polling indicates the two candidates face a close race, with a survey out June 11 showing Shannon behind Lankford by 2 points. That poll, conducted by a pro-Shannon group, showed a significant decline in support for Shannon since its last survey in April, an indication the negative attacks might have taken a toll on his support.

But now that a pro-Lankford group is on the attack as well, neither candidate holds the upper ground on the issue.

In the other ad his campaign released Tuesday, Shannon addresses the camera, warning that America is on “a road to ruin with more spending, more debt and less liberty.”

“It’s time to stand up to Barack Obama and say no to more debt and demand a balanced budget,” he continues. “That’s exactly what I’ll do as your next senator.”

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