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Former Oklahoma congressman J.C. Watts weighs support for gubernatorial race

BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: April 26, 2009
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J.C. Watts is acting and sounding like he will be a gubernatorial candidate next year.

Regardless, the two Republicans who have already announced they’re running for governor say they’re not budging from the race.

Watts, a former Oklahoma congressman, 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 ... a lot of my supporters and a lot of donors,” said Watts, who still is planning to launch a television news network targeted at a black audience. "It’s a lot to think about.”

Watts appeared to be in campaign mode April 18 when he showed up at the state Republican convention. He spent a couple of hours talking with party delegates and officials, many of whom sought him out during his unannounced visit.

‘"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,” said Watts, a former star quarterback at the University of Oklahoma and the first black elected to a statewide office in Oklahoma. "I think I can draw that conclusion over the next four or five weeks.”

The other candidates
U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, said she’s in the gubernatorial race to stay, no matter what Watts decides.

At a glance
J.C. Watts’ background

After serving on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, J.C. Watts, shown above, 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.

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