By James Neal, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
The Oklahoma House Republican Caucus elected Rep. Mike Jackson, R-Enid, Thursday to serve as speaker pro tempore in the next legislative session.
Jackson’s election by the caucus was part of a slate of Republican leaders selected two days after the GOP gained two seats in the House, increasing its margin over Democrats to a commanding 72-29 edge.
The caucus tapped Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, as speaker-elect for outgoing Speaking Kris Steele.
Jackson will replace outgoing Speaker Pro Tempore Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, after the new Republican leadership formally is installed in January.
“I am looking forward to working with Speaker-elect Shannon and the members of the caucus,” Jackson said in a House press release. “It is a privilege to serve the members, and I feel like 2013 is going to be a great year for the people of Oklahoma.”
In a telephone interview Thursday, Jackson said he is looking forward to the opportunities afforded by the increased Republican majority in the House.
“It’s been an honor to serve House District 40 and the city of Enid for the last eight years,” Jackson said. “As we move forward in Oklahoma, we have a great opportunity. We’ve expanded our majority in the House, and there are a lot of opportunities to grow business and make sure we’re creating jobs and make sure Oklahoma is moving forward.”
With 13 new members coming to the House, Jackson said there is “the possibility to have a lot of new ideas” in the next legislative session.
He said the overall direction of the caucus and the next session will begin to take shape at the Republican caucus retreat Dec. 2-4 in Lawton.
“We’ll know where the overall focus of the caucus is after the retreat,” Jackson said. “It’s a little early to know exactly what policies will be presented, but we have a little time to develop how we approach the 2013 legislative session.”
Shannon said in the House press release the Legislature and the state face serious challenges in the next session.
“We face many challenges in the upcoming session, but I view challenges as opportunities to lead and make our state better for every Oklahoman,” he said.
“Our nation is at a tipping point, and I truly believe Oklahoma can be a light for the rest of the nation to follow. Leaders in Washington, D.C., have proven they are incapable of leading. We have the will to get things done, and I am ready to collaborate with the entire House body to develop a conservative, free-market, limited-government agenda that will create strong, prosperous families and grow our economy.”
Another area legislator selected for caucus leadership Thursday was Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, who was re-elected to serve as assistant majority whip.
Sanders has served in a caucus leadership position every session since he was first elected in 2008.
Sanders said the continued GOP ascendancy, particularly in the southeastern quarter of the state, is increasing diversity in the party.
That could be a challenge, Sanders said, as the caucus leadership works to “make sure we speak with one voice.”
Sanders said he was “thrilled” by the elections of Jackson and Shannon to the caucus’ two top posts.
“I think northwest Oklahoma and western Oklahoma will have great representation in the state House in the next session,” he said.
The newly elected members of the House will be sworn in at the Capitol at 11 a.m. Nov. 14.
The Democratic House Minority Caucus has not yet held elections for its new leadership.
House leadership will be elected formally by the full House in early January.