DALLAS --Embattled Oklahoma Gov. David Waiters said yesterday that he would not seek re-election, dismissing speculation that he had decided to run for a second term after pleading guilty to violating campaign contribution laws.
"I have decided that my obligation to my family goes well beyond my obligation to public service, so I am not going to file for any public office," he said during a late afternoon press conference in Oklahoma City. His announcement clears the way for about 10 candidates, including Democratic candidate Lieut. Gov. Jack Mildren, who filed by the 5 p.m. central standard time deadline yesterday.
Waiters' decision also represents the second time he has said that he will not compete again for the governor's post. Last November, the Democratic governor said he would not run for office because it was not in the best interest of his family.
Waiters drew heavy fire from the public after he pleaded guilty Oct. 21 to a misdemeanor charge of accepting political campaign contributions that exceeded the legal limit.
In exchange for the plea, eight felony charges brought by the grand jury were dismissed as well as six perjury and two conspiracy charges. The agreement allowed Waiters to continue in office and run again.
In addition to the plea bargain, Waiters also drew criticism for proposing a $1.6 billion turnpike project that some saw as unnecessary.
However, after the public furor lessened, Waiters again was reported to be considering seeking a second term in office as well as considering other public positions.
Meantime, 10 candidates have filed for the governor's race through Tuesday. Democratic candidates include: Bernice Shedrick, a state senator from Stillwater; Danny Williams, a state representative from Seminole; Joe Vickers, a U.S. Army retiree in Shawnee; and Mildren.
Republican candidates include: Jerry Kobyluk, a farmer from Spencer; Jerry Pierce, a state senator from Bartlesville; Virginia Hale of Oklahoma City; Thomas Lay of Owasso; and Frank Keating, a Tulsa attorney and former state senator.
Wes Walkins, a businessman and former U.S. congressman from Stillwater, has filed as an independent.