WASHINGTON — Citing business obligations, former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts said Friday he won’t run for governor next year.
Watts’ decision leaves the Republican field, for now, with U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, of Oklahoma City, and state Sen. Randy Brogdon of Owasso.
On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins has announced she intends to run, and state Attorney General Drew Edmondson is considering it. Democratic Gov. Brad Henry can’t seek a third term.
Watts, 51, runs a public relations and consulting company in Washington and has been working to launch a black TV news channel. In a brief statement, Watts said his "current business and contractual obligations create hurdles” that he can’t overcome to make a race.
"Many Oklahomans — Republican and Democrat, red yellow, black, brown and white, from all walks of life — encouraged me to make the race,” the former University of Oklahoma football star said in a prepared statement.
"I am deeply honored, humbled and grateful for the confidence they have shown in me. I’m sorry we won’t fulfill our goals together. I will continue to work for a prosperous and thriving Oklahoma, this glorious place we call home and the rest of the world calls America.”
Fallin, who has already announced her intention to run for governor and had pledged to remain in the race even if Watts joined it, said, "J.C. Watts has been a great friend and a great asset to the people of Oklahoma. "He is a popular figure both here and nationally, and I am sure he will continue to find success in or out of politics.