Oklahoma Speaker T.W. Shannon has debuted two new ads in the last week before the Senate GOP primary: a positive spot touting his credentials, plus an ad featuring former Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Okla. Shannon and Rep. James Lankford, R-Okla., are locked a tight GOP primary on June 24 that will likely head to an August runoff if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., is stepping down at the end of this Congress, creating this contentious special election for his seat.
In Shannon's positive spot, provided to CQ Roll Call, Shannon speaks directly to the camera.
"America is at a crossroads," he says, standing near Route 66. "Friends, we must chart a new path," he goes on. It's time to stand up to Barack Obama and say no to more debt and demand a balanced budget. That's exactly what I'll do as your next Senator."
The 30-second ad is backed by 1,000 points — the metric for how many times an ad plays on the air — and will run statewide through primary day, according to Shannon's campaign.
The second ad pushes back on a negative spot that Foundation for Economic Prosperity Inc., a super PAC backing Lankford, is running. The ad claims Shannon "voted in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for higher debt and a Medicaid expansion for a special interest that employed him," according to NewsOK.
"Don't believe the false attacks against T.W. Shannon. I know T.W.," says Watts, who previously endorsed Shannon, speaking directly to the camera.
"As Oklahoma speaker, T.W. Shannon reduced debt, reformed welfare, and stopped President Obama's medicaid expansion. Now, negative ads are trying to distort his record. The truth: T.W. Shannon will oppose more debt and fight to balance the budget," Watts says. "I'm voting for T.W. Shannon and hope you will too."
There are 1,000 points behind the ad, Shannon's campaign said, and it will run in the Tulsa market through primary day. Tulsa, one of the two largest media markets in the state, is critical for Shannon. Lankford's base of support is in Oklahoma City, the other major media market, where his congressional district is located; Shannon needs to do extremely well in Tulsa to counteract that.
The race is rated Safe Republican by the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.