Just before 9 a.m., former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson announced via Facebook that he is entering the state’s 2018 race for governor.
Making his announcement May 1, Edmondson joins a crowded field. As a Democrat, he will face House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City) and former state Sen. Connie Johnson.
On the Republican side of things, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has filed his campaign paperwork, and longtime Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson has officially announced his candidacy after giving away an assault rifle to test the waters. State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones has also been eyeing a run for the state’s top post.
Famous political name
Edmondson’s announcement had been rumored and outright expected for the past month, and it revives the electoral career of a longtime statewide official who bears one of the most famous political names in Oklahoma history.
J. Howard Edmondson served as the state’s 16th governor and a U.S. senator. Drew and James E. Edmondson are the nephews of the former governor. Their father, Ed Edmondson, served as a congressman from eastern Oklahoma.
But Drew Edmondson’s candidacy comes on the heels of an unexpected 2010 defeat in the Democratic primary for governor, and in fall 2016 he told NonDoc he had no intention to run for office again. At the time, he was spearheading the campaign against State Question 777, which would have prohibited legislative regulation of issues related to agriculture. Edmondson is largely credited with the broad defeat of that proposal.
Tough road for Democrats
While Oklahomans may be looking for a change in leadership after years of GOP-led fiscal drama, pollsters and other political operatives remain extremely skeptical that a Democrat can win statewide in Oklahoma right now.
Johnson ran for U.S. Senate in 2014 and received 29 percent of the vote against incumbent James Lankford. Joe Dorman was the party’s gubernatorial nominee that year, and he received 41 percent of the vote against an unpopular Gov. Mary Fallin.
Inman, meanwhile, has the remaining few weeks of the 2017 legislative session to continue raising his name identification as the man leading the main opposition to GOP control at the State Capitol.
But Edmondson’s name ID starts much higher, and his slow-talking manner may contrast heavily with Inman’s rapid speech in the state’s rural areas. On the other hand, Edmondson’s persecution of numerous corporate interests — such as poultry producers — during his time as attorney general provide plenty of baggage for the former Muskogee County district attorney.