Fount Holland: founder of AH Strategies and main consultant
for T.W. Shannon's Senate campaign
By Tarini Parti
For a candidate who was seen as a future star in the Republican Party, T.W. Shannon’s campaign was “operating like it was 1998,” according to consultants working on the race — ultimately leading to the highly-touted Oklahoma Senate hopeful’s blowout loss to Rep. James Lankford in Tuesday’s primary.
Shannon’s choice of campaign consultants, strategy, ground game and digital efforts — or lack thereof — are all being blamed in part for his stunningly-decisive defeat, according to some Republican consultants close to the campaign who view the former state House speaker’s failure to even push the race to a runoff as a wasted opportunity for a candidate that just two months ago was attracting extensive national attention and exciting the conservative base.
Lankford, linked to the establishment through his position in House leadership, defeated Shannon, 57 percent to 34 percent, easily avoiding the expected August 26 runoff in the race for the GOP nomination for retiring Sen. Tom Coburn’s seat.
The blame game in Shannon’s camp and Team Lankford’s victory lap — both grand traditions in politics — began immediately after the outcome was determined. Republicans affiliated with conservative outside groups supporting Shannon and those close to his campaign said the consulting firms the campaign hired — AH Strategies, Majority Designs, and others — were all Oklahoma-based firms whose strategy of spending every dime on TV ads and direct mail works for state races but is insufficient for a U.S. Senate race.
“They all just stuck their heads in the sand and didn’t want to listen,” said one Republican strategist close to the campaign.
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