Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Lieutenant Governor's Race Gets High Interest in Primaries

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Lieutenant Governor's Race Gets High Interest in Primaries

Article excerpt

Hotly contested primaries for both political parties are unique among statewide offices in this year's elections. The lone exception is for the office of lieutenant governor, where the incumbent Republican Mary Fallin is the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for the state's 5th Congressional District seat and not seeking re-election.

It has drawn as much - if not more - attention than the gubernatorial race, where the only question is who will be the Republican nominee.

Constitutionally the office of lieutenant governor serves as governor when that person is out of state or the office is vacated, as well as president of the Senate with the power to vote in case of ties.

Therein lays the interest. Democrats hold a slim 25-23 margin in the Senate, and Republicans are expecting to gain at least one seat, perhaps more. If the membership is evenly divided, the lieutenant governor would decide which party would organize and control the Senate in 2007.

Democrats believe Gov. Brad Henry will win re-election and want a Democrat in the post. Republicans want to retain the office regardless of who is elected governor.

While constitutionally bereft of broad powers, the lieutenant governor serves on 10 boards and commissions including the state Board of Equalization, which establishes the annual state budgetary limit.

Among the three Republican candidates, Speaker of the Oklahoma House Todd Hiett, Kellyville, appears to be the best funded and leading candidate, having raised more than $1 million in campaign funds and campaigned extensively through well-developed TV ads over the past six weeks.

State Sen. Scott Pruitt, who represents a district in the Tulsa area but is involved with the Oklahoma City RedHawks baseball team, probably is next in both categories with contributions more than $750,000, according to his campaign headquarters. His TV ads have begun to appear and a new round is beginning as Pruitt launches an attack on Hiett's spending record as speaker.

Running behind the other two, state Sen. Nancy Riley, Tulsa, is the third Republican candidate.

All three tout conservative values, cutting taxes, reducing the growth of government, improving education and developing the economy. …

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