A group of 32 local Oklahoma Tea Party, 9-12, and liberty movement activists have written an open letter disagreeing with a series of high-profile Tea Party affiliated individuals and groups who have endorsed the candidacy of former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon in the GOP Senate primary there.
But the activists, who mostly support businessman Randy Brogdon, say Shannon isn’t conservative enough for their liking.
“As conservative grassroots leaders and activists from across the state of Oklahoma we are dismayed that you have endorsed T.W. Shannon for U.S. Senate without having fully researched and vetted the candidate,” the letter says.
“Boots on the ground, grassroots leaders and activists were never consulted regarding who the true conservative candidate was before endorsements were made,” the letter continues, echoing a complaint made by local Tea Party activists in Nebraska recently.
“Claiming the conservative mantle and deeming yourself as the ‘grassroots candidate’ without the authentic conservative record and actions to support it, instead, makes you a poser,” the letter states.
Trebor Worthen, a spokesperson for the Shannon campaign, told Breitbart News in an emailed statement on Tuesday “Every candidate in this race has their group of supporters, and these folks are clearly supporting one of our opponents. That doesn’t change the fact that countless conservative activists throughout Oklahoma have volunteered and donated to TW’s campaign, including many from local tea party groups and other conservative organizations.”
A poll released on April 23 indicated that Shannon leads Congressman James Lankford (R-OK), who has been endorsed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, by ten points, 42 percent to 32 percent. Brogdon, a former state Senator and mayor of Owasso who is popular among local grassroots groups, was in third place in the poll, with support from 7 percent of likely Republican primary voters.
An earlier poll taken in March indicated Lankford was ahead of Shannon by nine points, 37 percent to 28 percent. Both polls were paid for by a group affiliated with Shannon.
As far as the letter’s authors are concerned, T.W. Shannon has little in the way of a track record of paying attention to grassroots concerns. “Before announcing his candidacy to replace Senator Tom Coburn, T.W. Shannon had never stepped foot inside a Tea Party, Liberty, 9/12 Project meeting, rally or event; once he made his announcement he began showing up at meetings with little or no notice,” they wrote.
“After receiving the endorsements of Governor Sarah Palin, Mark Levin, Senate Conservatives Fund, U.S. Senators Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, Shannon no longer attends grassroots meetings nor does he seek the grassroots support – he doesn’t need us,” they added. “Your endorsements have given him the appearance of a grassroots, conservative, liberty loving candidate. While we hold his feet to the fire, you embrace him. “
The Oklahoma grassroots leaders wanted to be clear they do not support Shannon.
“We support candidates that we feel will best represent our principles and values, not the lesser of two evils, or who has the best chance to defeat James Lankford,” the letter concluded.
Among the signators were Ronda Vuillemont-Smith and several other members of the Tulsa 9.12 Project, John and Cyndi McArtor of Get America Back, Matthew Vermillion and several other members of OKforTEA, Howard Houchen of the Choctaw County Tea Party, Paul Wehrenberg of the OKC Tea Party, Lonnie Lu Anderson of the Southeastern Oklahoma Tea Party, Sharon Annesley of the Oklahoma Liberty Tea Party, and Mark Keeling of the Grady County Tea Party.