The first black person from southern Oklahoma elected to serve in the Legislature is on track to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives.
Republican House members Monday elected Rep. T.W. Shannon, of Lawton, as speaker-designate. He would be the first black House speaker if Republicans remain in power and the full House elects him to the powerful post in early 2013. Republicans have a 69-31 majority in the House.
“I’m overwhelmed and honored that they would entrust me with this tremendous responsibility,” said Shannon, who was elected to the House in 2006. “I’m looking forward that we’re going to move forward united as one caucus to advance the conservative agenda in Oklahoma, to continue the momentum we started.”
He downplayed the historic significance of his becoming speaker.
“I think I am a little different — I think I’m the first speaker who’s above 6-5,” Shannon joked.
“We all stand on the shoulders of those that have gone before us,” he said.
“This just goes to show you that Okahomans don’t care what you look like. They don’t care about where you come from. What they care about is what you believe, and there’s no question that the members in that room believe that a conservative agenda for Oklahoma is the way to move forward.”
Shannon defeated Speaker Pro Tem Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview. Vote totals were not released.
Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, also sought the position. Reynolds, who said he ran as a protest to the position, was eliminated in the first round of balloting.
House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, is term-limited and cannot seek re-election in 2012. Steele’s term as speaker ends when his term expires after the November 2012 elections.
House Republicans will meet again after the November 2012 elections to elect a speaker-elect.