OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Republican state Sen. Clark Jolley said Thursday he is running for Oklahoma's 5th District U.S. House seat, becoming the latest GOP candidate to jump into the fray after U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn announced his early exit and sent a shock wave through the Sooner State's 2014 political scene.
“I'm running for Congress to be a strong, conservative voice in Washington,” Jolley told The Associated Press ahead of a formal announcement. “My actions as a conservative fighter in the Senate back up my words.”
Jolley, 43, gets to keep his state Senate seat while running for Congress since he's in the middle of a four-year term.
He planned to announce his candidacy at 3:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center in Oklahoma City.
The 5th District congressional seat, which includes most of Oklahoma County, along with Seminole and Pottawatomie counties to the east, was thrown open when two-term Republican U.S. Rep. James Lankford announced earlier this week he planned to run for Coburn's U.S. Senate seat.
Jolley, the chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, was first elected in 2004 and has twice been re-elected to his Senate seat in the conservative Oklahoma City suburb of Edmond. During his 2012 campaign, he faced a well-funded tea party-aligned challenger in the primary, who attempted to paint Jolley as a moderate political insider. Jolley won with more than 56 percent of the vote.
Jolley sponsored a tough anti-abortion bill in 2011 that makes it a felony crime for doctors to perform abortions after a woman reaches 20 weeks of pregnancy. He also fought for several years to secure a $38.5 million bond issue to build a new facility for the Medical Examiner's Office at the University of Central Oklahoma campus in Edmond.
Jolley is the latest on the list of GOP contenders for the seat that also includes Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, former state Rep. Shane Jett, and former state Sen. and Army veteran Steve Russell. Other Republicans considering the race are state Sens. Greg Treat and David Holt, and state Reps. Paul Wesselhoft and Mike Turner.
On the Democratic side in the 5th District, retired University of Central Oklahoma professor Tom Guild, who ran unsuccessfully for the post in 2010 and 2012, already has announced his plans to run again, as has retired federal contractor Keith Davenport and former state employee Marilyn Rainwater. Former Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, state Sen. Al McAffrey and state Rep. Anastasia Pittman all have said they're considering the race.
Sean Murphy can be reached at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy