J.C. Watts says he will let Oklahomans know in about a month whether he will run for governor in 2010.
“I’m not looking to play with this decision or play politics with it,” Watts said. “It’s a serious decision for my family and me. It’s a serious decision for any candidate.
“I’m just being open to listening to old and trusted friends who understand Oklahoma values and understand my values and understand who we are as a Republican Party and where we want to go with the party,” he said.
“I think I can draw that conclusion over the next four or five weeks,” he said.
Watts, a former Republican congressman, dropped in Saturday at the Republican state convention to chat with party delegates and officials about next year’s gubernatorial race.
Watts, who still is planning to launch a television news network targeted at a black audience, said he has been talking with Republicans from across the state and “I think Republicans are not satisfied with the (gubernatorial) choices.
“I’ve obviously been encouraged to take a look at it by obviously a lot of my supporters and a lot of donors,” Watts said. “It’s a lot to think about and think through.”
Watts, a former star quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, is the first black person elected to a statewide office in Oklahoma. After serving on the state Corporation Commission, he won election to four terms in the U.S. House, where he became chairman of the House Republican Conference. He did not run for re-election in 2002 and started his own lobbying, consulting and public affairs companies in Washington.
He said he believes Republicans will be patient with him as he makes “an honest, objective decision.”
On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, and state Sen. Randy Brogdon, R-Owasso, have announced they are running for governor next year. Both spoke to delegates during the convention.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Jari Askins has said she is in the governor’s race.
What do you think? Will Watts run for governor in 2010?
- Michael McNutt, Capitol Bureau