Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
OKLAHOMA CITY - The campaign for Oklahoma Governor officially began Thursday with Lt. Governor Jari Askins "humbly and respectfully" asking Oklahomans for their vote.
Askins could be the first of a crowded field for the office. Other candidates considering the race include Democratic Attorney General Drew Edmondson and state Treasurer Scott Meacham, also a Democrat. Republicans Mary Fallin and Tom Cole - both members of Congress - are also said to be rumored to be possible candidates.
The 55-year-old former special district judge said she would work to "improve schools, produce more college graduates, expand health care for children and reduce poverty."
I'm excited about the 2010 Oklahoma governor's race. Maybe I'm more excited about California or (given the events of the past month) Illinois, but, of the smaller states, Oklahoma has me as intrigued as any state. A competitive primary on the Democratic side appears nearly certain and we could have competition on the Republican side too.
Oklahoma has a popular term-limited Democratic governor, Brad Henry. It's reliably Republican in federal elections. So do voters opt to reward Henry's party or follow their loyalties in federal politics?
The dynamics are similar in Wyoming and Kansas. But, in Wyoming, Democrats lack an obvious heir apparent to Gov. Dave Freudenthal. In Kansas, Sen. Sam Brownback's candidacy may make the election a slam dunk for Republicans.
In Oklahoma, in contrast, Democrats have several statewide office holders to choose from for a nominee, including Askins. As a result, Oklahoma is a great test of whether a state can maintain Democratic loyalties in state politics, even while it's one of the most Republican in the country in federal elections.
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