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August 23, 2005
The Oklahoma Heartbreak

The AP reports that maverick Republican J.C. Watts has decided against a run for the governor's office in Oklahoma next year, disappointing conservatives in the Panhandle State:


"I have determined that the timing for such an adventure is not right at this point in our lives," he said in a statement.

He said he spent more than two months talking to voters across the state before reaching his decision.

Watts is the second Republican to decide against making the race; Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin has announced she will run for re-election instead of running for governor. Their moves leave the GOP without a proven vote-getter with wide name recognition to challenge Gov. Brad Henry, the popular Democratic incumbent.

Watts, 47, recently bought a home in the Washington, D.C., area, where he started a lobbying and consulting business after leaving Congress.

I had an opportunity to meet Watts last year at the RNC. Watts impressed us all with his quick mind, sharp analysis, and excellent communication skills; in fact, he'd make a great blogger. At the time, Alan Keyes made the big news by announcing his run at Barack Obama in the Illinois Senate race, which all of us predicted would end in disaster. Watts wouldn't go that far, but he remained honest enough to not blow smoke up our backsides about it, either. He supported Keyes because "we both wear the same jersey," but he didn't exactly predict a close race, either.

A year ago, I wrote that having a committed conservative like Watts on the sidelines made little sense for the GOP, especially when we could use such an intellectual leader. His work with GOPAC kept him busy enough, of course, but we could use him on the stump. Had he decided on a run at the governor's office next year and won, he could have vaulted into a front-runner slot for the Presidency by 2012.

I had hoped that Watts would come to that decision -- but as always, J.C. Watts chooses his own way. That is why he remains such an admirable figure, but I can't help being disappointed that he will remain in the background for a while longer.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 23, 2005 9:43 PM

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