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T.W. Shannon Enters Race For Oklahoma Senate Seat

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FILE - In this Jan. 23, 2013 file photo, Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, left, R-Lawton speaks at a legislative forum hosted by the Associated Press in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon formally announced his candidacy Wednesday for the GOP race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat., moments after Republican U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine said he won't run for the position.

Shannon, R-Lawton, formally declared his candidacy for the Senate seat held by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, who is stepping down two years early at the end of this congressional term.

Minutes before Shannon's announcement, Bridenstine said in a statement that he wouldn't run for the open seat.

"Since Dr. Tom Coburn's retirement announcement, I have been honored and overwhelmed by encouragement to succeed him as Oklahoma's senator," Bridenstine said. "After giving this matter serious consideration and prayer, my family and I have decided I will not to run in the special election to complete Dr. Coburn's term."

Bridenstine was elected to the U.S. House in 2012 after upsetting Republican incumbent Rep. John Sullivan in the primary.

Shannon will join two-term U.S. Rep. James Lankford and two lesser-known Republicans in the race for the GOP nomination. A Democrat hasn't been elected to an open U.S. Senate seat in Oklahoma since David Boren in 1978, and Republicans are heavily favored to maintain it.

No Democrats have formally announced.

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