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Okla. House speaker steps down from top post

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon is stepping down from one of the most powerful positions in state government as he runs for a U.S. Senate seat.

Shannon announced Tuesday on the House floor that he was stepping down from the speaker's post immediately. He said the decision was the ``right thing to do.''

Shannon is a 35-year-old Republican from Lawton who announced last week that he would run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated at the end of the year by Sen. Tom Coburn. Shannon will face two-term U.S. Rep. James Lankford and at least two other Republicans in the GOP primary.

Shannon's announcement will expedite a behind-the-scenes race to succeed him that includes Republican House Reps. Jeff Hickman, Mike Jackson and Jason Nelson.

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