Oklahoma Politics: August 2005 Archives

The group Oklahomans for Safe Roads and Bridges is using misleading language in its ads to urge voters to pass a gas tax increase on September 13 (State Question 723):

”Every eight days, fourteen Oklahomans die in part because of Oklahoma’s crumbling bridges and bad roads. One of them will be a child.”

Can you find the clinton clause? The words "in part" allow them to use the total annual number of fatalities on Oklahoma's highways and bridges. Joe Kelley spotted this and has the details on his blog, The Sake of Argument.

Watts out. Who's in?

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Got a comment wondering if I'd be writing about the decision of former Congressman J. C. Watts, Jr., not to run for Governor of Oklahoma. I heard Watts on KFAQ this morning. He cited family as the main reason for his decision, wanting to be a part of his kids' lives. He's also discovered that there's a life beyond politics. He seems to be keeping plenty busy.

I am an Oklahoma Republican, I think Brad Henry is leading the state in the wrong direction (to the extent that he is leading at all), and I would dearly love to see him defeated in the 2006 election. I'm sure many Republican activists were very sad to hear J. C.'s announcement, believing that he was the only possible Republican candidate with the name recognition and charisma to defeat Brad Henry.

Of course, in 2002 the Republicans had a candidate with great name recognition and charisma, in the person of Steve Largent -- although you could argue that a QB for the Sooners (during the Barry Switzer glory days, no less) is better known statewide than a Golden Hurrican wide receiver, even if the latter is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. (Barry endorsed Brad Henry in 2002. Would he have stayed on the sidelines if Brad's opponent had been one of his former players?) (Watts is listed as one of the legends of the Canadian Football League.)

So who's in the race? Oklahoma Republicans have a deep bench -- plenty of sharp, intelligent, articulate elected officials -- but who wants to challenge an incumbent with such a high approval rating?

My state senator, Jim Williamson, announced his candidacy back in the spring. Williamson, an attorney, served as Senate Minority Leader during the previous legislature. He's been a leader for the pro-life cause and was instrumental in getting this year's landmark legislation passed. He's not yet well known, but those who know him hold him in high regard. (His campaign website is under construction.)

The only other announced candidate is Bob Sullivan, Jr., who was appointed Oklahoma Secretary of Energy by Gov. Frank Keating in 2002. I saw him, but didn't have the chance to talk to him, at this month's Tulsa County Republican Men's Club luncheon. He has a few things on his campaign website, which is actually a Blogger-hosted blog with a domain name redirect. Give him points for ingenuity and frugality -- that's a quick and cheap way to get content up on the web. Bob Sullivan is, as far as I know, no relation to John, Dan, Randy, Ed, Andrew, or Gilbert O', none of whom are related to each other, as far as I know.

House Speaker Todd Hiett is in his last term in the legislature and running for statewide office would be a natural next step. He's been doing plenty of fundraising and working to raise his profile among Republican activists. Being a rural Republican -- he's a dairy farmer -- is a great combination for a statewide race. Theoretically, he'd run as well as Republicans normally do in the cities, but do better in the small towns than a city Republican would. He is awfully young. (I.e., he is younger than I am.) He may choose to aim for a downticket office and wait his turn for a shot at the Governor's mansion.

There's talk about Gary Richardson, the spoiler in the 2002 race, getting in again, this time as a Republican. He shouldn't waste his time or money. You don't spend all your time tearing down the Republican nominee and then come back for years later and get to be the nominee. We haven't forgotten.

Politics1's Oklahoma page also lists Broken Arrow Sen. Scott Pruitt as a potential candidate. He ran a respectable race but finished third in the 2001/2 special primary to replace Steve Largent in Congress. Pruitt would have a strong supporter on Tulsa radio: KFAQ morning host Michael DelGiorno was on Pruitt's campaign team in 2001, and the two are good friends.

Will Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin get back in the governor's race? As in 2002, she looked ready to jump in, but backed out as a presumptive favorite appeared ready to run. She could probably outlast Good Guy George Nigh if she stays in her current office. She's had some high-profile moments as President of the Senate, forcing some issues to the floor that the Democrat majority would rather not confront. Her decision to back out of the 2002 race created the political equivalent of what KRMG traffic reporter Doc Nelson used to call a "three-car Rocky," as Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau-Wynn backed out of running for Lt. Gov. to run for re-election, facing former State Rep. Tim Pope, who got in the Labor Commissioner race thinking it was an open seat.

Anyone else come to mind for governor? For downticket offices? Post your ideas in the comments.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from August 2005.

Oklahoma Politics: July 2005 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: September 2005 is the next archive.

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