Ted Cruz appears in Senate Conservatives Fund ad for T.W. Shannon

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) urges Republicans to nominate former Oklahoma House speaker T.W. Shannon (R) for U.S. Senate in a new TV ad released Thursday, just days ahead of the Oklahoma primary.

"In Oklahoma, there are a number of good Senate candidates. But T.W. Shannon is a conservative fighter. He has the courage to look Washington insiders in the eye and say, 'I don't work for you,'" Cruz says in the commercial.

Shannon's main competition in next Tuesday's primary is Rep. James Lankford (R), who is more of an establishment-backed candidate. The two also face minor competitors. If no candidate receives a majority, the race will head to a runoff in August.

Cruz awarded his first Senate endorsement of the 2014 cycle to Shannon in April. The Texas senator is staying out of races featuring incumbents, an unorthodox position considering he is vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, at its core an incumbent protection program.

The open Oklahoma race will decide who fills the seat of retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R).

the Senate Conservatives Fund and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) do not like each other. The group backed McConnell's primary opponent. McConnell, meanwhile, sought to alienate the group by blacklisting consultants who worked for the organization.

While Shannon is a tea party favorite, he also has connections to the establishment. He is a former aide to Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a close ally of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.

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