BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - T. W. Shannon will be Oklahoma's first black senator if he wins the Republican nomination and is elected this November, but the quiet campaign stirring here about Mr. Shannon's racial loyalties is not aimed at the African-American branch of his family tree.
The announcement by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn that he is resigning his seat at the end of the year has set up a spirited battle among Oklahoma Republicans to replace him.
Leading the pack are Rep. James Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. At age 36, Shannon is an up-and-coming star in the GOP, and if elected he would become the third African-American in the Senate — two of them Republicans.