Oklahoma elections: Askins weighs Supreme Court bid

Oklahoma's lieutenant governor, coming off Tuesday's loss in the gubernatorial race, says she is undecided whether to apply for an opening on the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Published: November 6, 2010
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Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, who this week lost her bid to become Oklahoma's 27th governor, said Friday she is undecided whether to apply for an open seat on the state Supreme Court.

Askins, an attorney and former judge, said she still is reviewing whether she would meet residency requirements.

The opening, created when Justice Marian Opala died last month, is for the district that covers Oklahoma County; Askins, who has a home and is a registered voter in Duncan, has maintained the same residence the past six years in Oklahoma City.

A 1984 attorney general's opinion states that to be appointed a Supreme Court justice a person must be a qualified elector — someone who meets the qualifications to vote — as opposed to a registered voter in the judicial district for one year immediately before his or her appointment.

"I've asked for a copy of the attorney general's opinion that people say has been used so that I can read it to determine whether I qualify," said Askins, a Democrat who lost the governor's race to U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Edmond.

If she decides not to apply or does and is not selected, Askins said: "There may be other opportunities to serve the state. We'll just have to see."

The Judicial Nominating Commission has announced it is accepting applications for Opala's position through Nov. 19. Applicants considered to be viable candidates must undergo background investigations by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

The commission then interviews candidates individually and decides on the names of three candidates to forward to the governor. It's questionable whether that process can be completed by the time Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, leaves office Jan. 10.

Changes approved in the nominating process for judges which voters approved this week could further delay the process.

Back at job

Askins, 57, said she intends to fill out the remaining two months of her term; she was back in her state Capitol office the day after the election. Her term expires Jan. 10 when state Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, elected Tuesday as lieutenant governor, will be sworn into office.

"I'll just continue to do my job," she said. "Just because the election's over doesn't mean I woke up the next day and knew what I was going to do," Askins said after speaking to the 78th Oklahoma State NAACP Conference at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.



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