With $2 million of his own money to get his message out,
independent Gary Richardson has attracted a lot of attention in the
governor's race by calling for tax cuts, a lottery to raise money
for education and elimination of turnpike tolls.
Richardson says he's gaining ground on other candidates because
people are fed up with political infighting between Democrats and
His proposals are contained in a 33-page booklet called the
"Richardson Plan," and he says that his candidacy has some built-in
advantages because, as an independent, he could avoid partisan
He said in an interview with The Associated Press that if he
could not get warring Republicans and Democrats to reason together,
he would go to the people to try to get his programs enacted through
"It wouldn't take the Legislature long to learn that I mean
business -- that I'm a bottom-line person," the Tulsa attorney said.
"At my age, 61 years old, I'm not running for governor because I
want a political career. I'm not looking for the next job."
He said he did not even like politics and "and I particularly
don't like partisan politics. I think it is a waste."
Those may seem to be strange words from a man who was heavily
involved in politics early in his career, running twice for Congress
as a Republican. He failed to get elected. He served as U.S.
attorney after a political appointment, before starting a successful
As U.S. attorney in Muskogee, Richardson said he was criticized
by members of his party for hiring Democrats to top positions. He
said he still believes in the best person for the position,
regardless of party.
Richardson wants to succeed Republican Gov. Frank Keating, who is
winding up eight years in office. Others in the race are Republicans
Steve Largent and Jim Denny and Democrats Vince Orza, Brad Henry,
Kelly Haney and Jim Dunegan.
Richardson gives Keating and the Legislature no better than a C-
plus grade for their work.
"I think Frank has been very partisan," he said. "I've told him
that. It won't be any shock if he reads it in the paper."
Richardson and Keating are friends, going back to when they were
both federal prosecutors.
In fact, Keating was able to run for governor in 1994 because
Richardson gave him a job after Keating returned to Oklahoma from
Washington, D.C., where he had served in Republican administrations
for several years.
Richardson said he told Keating in February of 2001 that he was
thinking about running for governor as an independent and Keating
"tried to convince me to run as a Republican."
He said he told Keating he would not have his job as a partisan.
"The reason is I don't think Frank has been free; nor do I
believe any governor from one of the two parties today would be free
to lead the whole, to be a leader for the people."
In other comments, Richardson said that if elected governor, he
would probably support a study of the how the Oklahoma death penalty
is applied and why Oklahoma executes more people than most other