Political power players drew more than a thousand people to east Tulsa and brought attention to an Oklahoma senate race Thursday night. The biggest name on the stage was former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
Palin, along with two other familiar Republicans, was in Oklahoma to shine a spotlight on the senate campaign of T.W. Shannon and his push for change in Washington D.C.
"I'm a conservative, who believes in less government, lower taxes and strongly pro-life. That's what this election's about. That's what Oklahoma's about. That's the message we've got to take to Washington D.C.," Shannon said.
Flags were waving, patriotic music was playing and supporters were packed in the Green Country Event Center, all clear signs that campaign season is here.
"I have the incredible privilege of introducing my good friend, the original momma grizzly, Governor Sarah Palin," Texas U.S. Senator, Ted Cruz said to a packed house Thursday.
Palin, U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah have endorsed state representative T.W. Shannon.
Shannon stepped down from his role as Speaker of Oklahoma's House, hoping to fill Tom Coburn's Senate seat, when Coburn leaves at the end of the year.
Reporter Tess Maune: "Senator Coburn, those are big shoes to fill."
Sarah Palin: "Oh, big shoes! So aren't you glad he's 6'5"? T.W.'s the one."
Palin showed up wearing a Sooner T-shirt, a wardrobe choice that came with such mixed reviews, it was the first thing the former Alaska governor brought up at the podium.
"Now I understand the rivalries between football teams around here," Palin said. "First thing that happens getting off the plane, half the Okies I'm seeing and meeting are thumbs up, half the Okies are thumbs down. OU, OSU, ORU, love ‘em all."
Palin got back on task quickly and asked Oklahomans if they would share Shannon with the rest of the U.S. saying he fulfills campaign promises and is responsible.
"Look at this guy, T.W. Shannon, he is the man from Oklahoma, he's the thunder that needs to storm through Washington D.C., to clean some things out and clean it up, turn some things around, T.W.'s the man," Palin said.
Shannon told his supporters the federal government is taking away too many freedoms.
"Whether it's the government mandating health insurance we don't want, or invading our privacy, or forcing people to violate their conscience by providing abortion drugs, Oklahomans now fear their own government is taking away their liberty," Shannon said.
The only solution, he said, is less government. He said his conservative approach in Washington would be a step in the right direction.
"We need new leadership in Washington D.C. and we're never gonna change things in Washington, if we keep sending the same kind of leaders," Shannon said. "I'm a different kind of leader, who's not afraid to stand up to the establishment."
Sen. Cruz echoed Shannon's call for change in Washington and told the crowd he backs Shannon because he truly understands the American dream.
"We don't just need someone to go to Washington and vote right, we need someone with the courage of his convictions to stand up and do the right thing when all of Washington says surrender," said Cruz.
The first issue Shannon plans to address if elected is the nation's debt.
"We can balance our budget, we do it in Oklahoma, we do it in our personal lives, we need to do it in Washington D.C.," said Shannon.
Shannon faces seven GOP candidates, including Congressman James Lankford and former state Senator Randy Brogdon.
There are also three Democrats and an independent in the race.