The Norman Transcript

State/Region

February 9, 2014

Longtime friends face off in race for Oklahoma House speaker

(Continued)

OKLAHOMA CITY —

Hickman worked as press secretary for University of Oklahoma President David Boren, a former U.S. senator and governor, while Jackson served as a field representative for current U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe. Both have pledged to run again for another two-year term as speaker if elected to the post, and each said they have no interest in getting elected with the help of the chamber’s 29 Democrats and serving as a coalition speaker.

“At the end of the day, we’re all Republicans, and the people of the state have asked us to govern, and we’re going to get that job done,” Hickman said.

Jackson currently serves as speaker pro tem, the No. 2 position in the House, and was one of Shannon’s top lieutenants. Hickman previously served as speaker pro tem under former House Speaker Kris Steele, and Hickman lost to Shannon in the speaker’s race two years ago by a razor-thin margin.

For his part, Shannon said he had no interest in influencing the outcome of the race.

“I’m not getting involved in that one,” Shannon said. “I have one vote on Monday, just like every other member.”

The leadership structure would remain virtually unchanged if the body elects Jackson, who praised Shannon for his ability to lead a caucus with a wide political spectrum, including a boisterous right wing.

“It would basically be a continuation, but I’m not T.W. Shannon,” Jackson said. “If they decide to elect me, I would have to lead the caucus the best way I see fit, and get input from the members of our caucus as well.”

While Jackson said he feels confident with the number of supporters he has in the caucus, he acknowledges there is “some fluidity” to the race.

One key group critical in determining the outcome will be the 13 Republicans elected in 2012. Although each one cast a vote for speaker after their election, this time they’ve gotten to know each of the candidates, their strengths and weaknesses.

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