State representatives are faced with finding a new leader in a hurry next week after House Speaker Lance Cargill stepped down under pressure Monday.
The 2008 legislative session begins Monday.
Republicans control the House but no GOP legislators there said publicly Monday they will seek the powerful position. Gov. Brad Henry said he can work with whoever takes over.
"It really doesn't matter to me,” the Democratic governor said.
Cargill, R-Harrah, quit after being widely criticized for mishandling his personal taxes. He said front-page news accounts of his personal issues were overshadowing the important work ahead.
reported this month that Cargill failed to file his 2005 and 2006 personal income tax returns until getting a warning from the state Tax Commission. The Oklahoman
also reported Cargill, an attorney, was late in paying property taxes on his Harrah law office six years in a row.
"It is unfortunate that it had to come to this, but Speaker Cargill brought his troubles on himself,” said Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City. "The people of Oklahoma have a right to expect exemplary conduct of those they send to the state Capitol, and he failed that basic test. Oklahomans should know that his resignation came after considerable pressure from members of his own party.”
Republicans plan to meet at 8:30 a.m. Monday to begin the process of selecting a new speaker. The full House likely will elect the new speaker that afternoon, possibly right after the governor's State of the State speech.
Cargill, 36, was first elected to the House in 2000 and has been speaker only about 13 months. He will remain a representative. At the time of his election to the leadership post, he was the nation's youngest House speaker.
"I want nothing more than for good ideas to be moved forward in this building,” Cargill said at the Capitol in announcing his resignation.