Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Democrats Seek Candidate to Step Up to the Plate

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Democrats Seek Candidate to Step Up to the Plate

Article excerpt

Democratic Party forces have been striking out -- for the most part -- in their search for big-name candidates to run against incumbent Republican Gov. Frank Keating in 1998.

The list of those who have rejected the entreaties of party officials and other partisans to date is long.

It includes Attorney General Drew Edmondson, Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage, state Treasurer Robert Butkin, former U.S. Reps. Bill Brewster and Jim Jones and businessmen Dan Little of Madill. Democrats even tried to no avail to recruit Republican Vince Orza, the restaurant magnate who lost a close runoff race with Bill Price for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 1990. Democratic officials contend that Keating's latest fight with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission over his use of state vehicles for partisan political campaigning could change the political picture. Keating has been accused of 32 ethics violations, and has countered with a lawsuit that argues that ethics rules conflict with a law requiring the Department of Public Safety to provide him with transportation and security. "Governor Keating's problems, I would imagine, have a lot of Democrats reconsidering their position on whether to run or not to run," said Pat Hall, executive director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party. That may be true, but there is little evidence of that at this point. Two little-known state lawmakers -- Rep. Laura Boyd of Norman and James Hager of Pawhuska -- have announced publicly they are considering the race, along with the 1994 Democratic nominee, former University of Oklahoma quarterback Jack Mildren. "I'm giving it every consideration and anticipate making some announcement in the near future," Mildren said. "I want to make sure that we explore all the options, especially as it involves my family." Mildren's supporters believe he would fare much better in a rematch with Keating, since then-independent Wes Watkins siphoned off much of the base Democratic vote in the 3rd Congressional District in 1994. Watkins has since won his old seat back as a Republican. Boyd has filed a statement of organization with the Ethics Commission, the first Democrat to do so. …

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