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Friday, December 9, 2016

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is jumping into Oklahoma’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate, endorsing former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon in a new ad from the Senate Conservatives Fund.

“In Oklahoma, there are a number of good Senate candidates, but T.W. Shannon is a conservative fighter,” Cruz says in the 30-second television spot. “He has the courage to look Washington insiders in the eye, and say, ‘I don’t work for you, I work for the people of Oklahoma.'”

“On June 24, let’s make D.C. listen, and vote T.W. Shannon for U.S. Senate,” Cruz concludes.

Roll Call reports that the ad is backed by a $163,429 buy, and will air through Tuesday’s primary.

Shannon is one of just two 2014 Senate candidates to receive Cruz’s endorsement (Nebraska’s Ben Sasse is the other). Cruz’s lack of direct involvement in the midterms comes as a surprise, given his position as the vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Republicans’ official campaign arm. He has shown more willingness to work with outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund — which often works against incumbent Republicans — leaving many of his GOP colleagues furious.

There may be a bit of score settling involved in Cruz’s endorsement in Oklahoma. Shannon’s chief opponent is Rep. James Lankford (R-OK), the fifth-ranking House Republican and a close ally to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), with whom Cruz has an adverserial relationship. Although Lankford voted against the deal to raise the debt ceiling and end the Cruz-created government shutdown, he has complained that it didn’t “solve anything.”

Lankford is the tentative favorite in Tuesday’s primary, although Shannon has steadily narrowed the gap over the past several months. Lankford leads Shannon by 5 percent, according to The Huffington Post’s polling average.

Screenshot: Senate Conservatives Fund/YouTube

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