To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Thursday, May 23, 2024


Shannon’s Old-Time Religion



Arnold1-2012There was a Brush Arbor quality to T.W. Shannon’s U.S. Senate campaign kickoff on Wednesday.

Shannon’s sermonette [12 minutes-or-so] wasn’t nearly as long as the stereotypical tent revivalist’s. Hymnals weren’t opened. And there wasn’t an altar call.

But the state House speaker and Lawton Republican wove more than the usual amount [even by Oklahoma standards] of Holy Scripture into his anti-Obama, anti-federal government announcement speech – eliciting more than a few full-throated Amens! from supporters gathered at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame near the Capitol.

He didn’t mention his Republican primary rival by name, but it sure seemed U.S. Rep. James Lankford was on Shannon’s mind.

Shannon’s always worn his religion on his public sleeve, but quoting specific verses from Romans and Proverbs suggests he’s clear about Lankford’s political base: Oklahoma’s 1,800 Southern Baptist churches.

Lankford, of course, was longtime director of Falls Creek, the nation’s largest Christian youth camp, before entering politics four years ago, and remains a popular guest preacher at SBC churches across the state.

Shannon also appeared to take aim at Lankford when he urged Oklahoma voters not to send “status quo politicians to Washington.” Lankford has come under fire from the Tea Party right – which helped propel Shannon to the speakership – for voting in favor of the federal budget agreement in December.

Shannon is primed to cash in on Tea Party energy and money [think Koch Brothers, Club for Growth and other deep-pocketed, far-right interests] now that Tea Party darling/rookie Congressman Jim Bridenstine of Tulsa has bowed out of the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn.

It’s also politically significant that Chickasaw Gov. Bill Anoatubby was alongside Shannon for Wednesday’s announcement. Shannon, African-American and Chickasaw, has appeared in a Chickasaw TV ad that undoubtedly helped improve his political visibility/name ID beyond his hometown.

Speaker T.W. ShannonBut there are potential headaches for a state House speaker seeking higher office – namely, speakers can’t help but make enemies. After all, they decide which bills are heard and which aren’t, often leaving a trail of embittered lawmakers and special interests.

Shannon has at least one very public GOP critic in the state House – gadfly OKC Rep. Mike Reynolds, who set up a web site that asks: Who is Tahrohon W. Shannon? It includes civil and criminal background checks, income and work history, home ownership details, legislative record and raises campaign finance questions.

As the Republican lineup solidified Wednesday [it also includes Norman paramedic Jason Weger, a political novice], the Democratic field remains uncertain. Former state Sen. Kenneth Corn and former U.S. Rep. Dan Boren are passing it up. Neither ex-Gov. Brad Henry nor ex-AG Drew Edmondson seem inclined to run.

Here’s an intriguing candidate: state Sen. Constance Johnson. Best known for her efforts to decriminalize marijuana and end the death penalty, the OKC Democrat is a hard-working, progressive legislator who would certainly offer a stark alternative to the likely far-far-far right or far-far-far-far right GOP nominee. Johnson is thinking about it – seriously.

Sen. Connie JohnsonIf she enters the race, it is quite possible the two major-party nominees to replace Coburn would be African-American. That would alter the national perception of Oklahoma, wouldn’t it?

Arnold Hamilton is editor of The Oklahoma Observer. For more on the 2014 Senate campaigns and Coburn’s legacy see the February Observer, available on newsstands the week of Feb. 10.

U.S. Capitol photo courtesy of Architect of the Capitol



  1. Eric D. Dickson
    Vaughn Fricker
    Composition The great answer

    The Rose Colored Glasses of Politics
    Mister Hamilton has you ever heard of the fool that only wears rose color glasses? He could only see the world in one perception. It could be right or it could be wrong, but there is no grey area to his beliefs.
    I am originally from the Great State of Ohio. You do know that state it has been one of the most important swing states of our modern day political era. As you look though the various presidential elections dating back through 1976, our parties listed there has only been two major parties listed democrat or republican with a spice of Indepdent. You will see no mention of the Tea Party or as they like to call them the tea baggers. Can Oklahoma say the same? I don’t believe so, could that be the reason why Oklahoma can’t make any true breakthroughs with their economy or social services.
    You do know that the Tea Party is kidnapping more and more of the republican threshold that Oklahoma has been using each and every day. As you look at the tea party beliefs you would have to call it partly conservative, partly libertarian and partly populist.
    Come on Mister Hamilton before you advocate for a political theory at least get on one side of the fence or the other. The republicans and their child the tea party cannot decide which way to go. They both advocate to lower budget and lower the social programs, but they can’t decide on how to accomplish this gigantic feat. Right now the tea party has the republicans balancing on a tight rope like the late Karl Wallenda, one day tethering from one side to another it will cause a major problem that the Great State of Oklahoma, and the republicans can’t dig themselves out of.
    Mister Hamilton as I read in your article of “Shannon’s Old Time religion,” I noticed the brain washing that you attempted to feed your readers on each candidate. When I moved to Oklahoma I knew that it had been strictly republican for some time. But I didn’t realize how blinded it was by the republican hypocrite that costs the state more and more money for its children.
    Come on Mister Hamilton take those glasses off and realize that there is more than just one true political party. And for a state to succeed both parties have to participate.
    The problem that I have with today’s Government is when our country was founded there was a statement of separation of church and state. As the years go on, they have folded those two concepts together more and more. Almost like a loaf of bread at the baker. Please what has happened to that separation?
    With the republican influence has invaded Oklahoma, I am surprised that the state hasn’t made any true regression at all.
    But in your story the statement that truly bothers me the most being an independent. You discussed Constance Johnson and her possible bid for office, and you made a disturbing comment if she would be nominated they would be two Afro American running for the same office, what difference would that be. Why should a person’s race be a deciding factor of their political beliefs?
    Come on Mister Hamilton take the rose color glasses off and get a true wake up call.

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.
Mark Krawczyk
Mark Krawczyk
March 9, 2023
Exceptional reporting about goings on in my home state as well as informative opinion pieces that makes people think about issues of the day...........get a SUBSCRIPTION FOLKS!!!!!!!
Brette Pruitt
Brette Pruitt
September 5, 2022
The Observer carries on the "give 'em hell" tradition of its founder, the late Frosty Troy. I read it from cover to cover. A progressive wouldn't be able to live in a red state without it.