Rising GOP star in Oklahoma fights for political survival against strong right-wing challenge

The Associated Press

In this Friday, June 6, 2014 photo, Oklahoma state Rep. T.W. Shannon, left, talks with U.S. Rep. James Lankford, right, following a Republican candidate forum for the open U.S. Senate seat in Lawton, Okla. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

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Shannon, whose father, a school teacher, is black and a Chickasaw and whose mother is African-American, says there should be nothing unusual about a black or Native American conservative.

"I think we're beyond the days where that's a major issue in the race," Shannon said before a candidate forum.

But it's unlikely Shannon will get much support from those traditionally Democratic groups, even in his hometown of Lawton, a rough-and-tumble Army post town.

"The Republican Party has thrown us off the bus, and I'll be doggone if I'm going to vote for a black dude that drives the bus over me," said Jim Floyd, 84, a retired African-American Army officer and Democrat who has lived in Lawton for 50 years.

Shannon's membership in the Chickasaw Nation has been a fundraising asset. The tribe operates the state's largest casino and leaders of several Oklahoma-based tribes are backing him financially.

The fierce attack ads from both sides have drawn a rebuke from Coburn, the hugely popular conservative maverick, who decried politics "in its very worst form with misleading advertisements and allegations against candidates."

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