A former Oklahoma state senator who unsuccessfully ran for governor four years ago officially abandoned his latest bid for the office Monday, saying he’s instead seeking election to Sen. Tom Coburn’s seat in Washington, which is opening up.
After weeks of speculation, Randy Brogdon, of Owasso, formally announced his Senate bid via email and social media. Messages left on Brogdon’s cell phone and at his campaign headquarters were not immediately returned.
“The Washington tradition of going along to get along has given us a $17 trillion debt and a stagnant economy,” Brogdon, a Republican, said in a statement. “I’m not going to Washington to manage the mess; I’m going up there to help dismantle it.”
Brogdon, 60, also accused Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of being “complicit in growing the scope of government and creating trillions of dollars in new debt.”
“He should resign immediately for the sake of our country’s future, and for the good of the Republican Party,” Brogdon wrote.
Coburn announced in January that he was foregoing the final two years of his term amid a recurrence of prostate cancer.
Brogdon was the owner of family heating and air conditioning company in Owasso, a conservative Tulsa suburb, where he previously served on the City Council and as mayor. He was elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2002 and earned a reputation as a fierce critic of what he claimed was excessive spending by a bloated state government.
Despite being heavily outspent by Mary Fallin in the 2010 GOP primary in the race for Oklahoma governor, Brogdon rode a wave of tea party support to nearly 40 percent of the vote. After losing, Brogdon took a $99,000-a-year state job with the newly elected Republican Insurance Commissioner, a move that boosted Brogdon’s monthly retirement benefit by more than 50 percent.
Brogdon also drew some negative attention to his campaign when he told The Associated Press in 2010 that he supported the creation of a state militia to protect Oklahoma against what he sees as an overreaching federal government. Amid heavy criticism, Brogdon retreated from that position and suggested he was referring to a National Guard-type unit to aid the state during civil emergencies.
Brogdon announced on Christmas Day through his Facebook page that he was running against Fallin again in 2014.
He will instead join a Republican field in the U.S. Senate race that includes two-term U.S. Rep. James Lankford of Edmond and former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon of Lawton, both well-established candidates who are expected to have a fundraising advantage. A handful of lesser-known GOP candidates also have announced plans to run for the seat, which Republicans are heavily favored to maintain.
One Democrat who has expressed an interest in running is two-term state Sen. Connie Johnson, a longtime liberal voice in the Oklahoma Senate who has become a hero among the pro-marijuana movement for her support of legalization and medicinal use of cannabis.
Oklahoma’s primary election will be held on June 24.