The New Speaker

State Rep. T.W. Shannon leaves behind one of the top leadership posts in Oklahoma politics to seek his political future in Washington, D.C. Last legislative session, the speaker was somewhat popular among right-wing Republicans nationally, traveling to talk and having some visits of officials here.

But who is next to have the corner office with the conference room on the east side of the state capitol? Three names are floated among the House membership: Jeff Hickman, Mike Jackson and Jason Nelson. I’m thinking Nelson is a long shot, though he has a reputation as a very hard worker and open access to the media. I’ve called his office at odd times through the year and almost always find him at work.

I don’t know Hickman and Jackson as well, but I find Hickman’s approach to policy debates in the more reasoned realm in House. Jackson is now acting as speaker in Shannon’s absence because he is the Speaker Pro Tempore. Maybe he can pull together enough votes in the Republican caucus to become the newest leader of the chamber.

Jackson’s performance before reporters at last week’s Associated Press legislative forum was less than stellar, but he was also put on that stage because Shannon picked that same day to formally announce his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Tom Coburn.

So, if I were a betting person, which I’m not (that includes the state lottery; a tax for people who can’t do math), my money would be on Jackson, but don’t count out Hickman.

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