Race for Governor: Drew Edmondson
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
On June 26th, Oklahomans will have a chance to go to the polls to pick who they want to represent their party in the gubernatorial election. FOX 25 is profiling the major candidates in all three parties that will appear on the ballot.
The leading Democratic Party candidate for governor is former Attorney General Drew Edmondson. He previously ran for the Democratic Gubernatorial nomination in 2010 and with his name recognition and years of experience many thought he was a shoo-in for the spot. However, Edmondson lost the primary to, then Lieutenant Governor, Jari Askins (who would go on to lose the general election to, now, Governor Mary Fallin).
Edmondson said he learned a lot of lessons from the 2010 campaign.
“Well one [lesson] is not to rely too heavily on polling,” Edmondson said with a chuckle, “The race isn't over until it is over and to put a lot more emphasis on ground game and organization.”
Edmondson said after having served 16 years as the Oklahoma Attorney General and losing in his bid to seek the governor’s office, he had retired from public service. However, it was the times that called him back from that retirement.
“We are in a mess in just about every category of state service,” Edmondson said, “The only good news about it is the wounds are self-inflicted which means they can be fixed.
As Attorney General, Edmondson gained a reputation for fighting for the people and defending transparency and open government.
“I'm hopeful I can point to my record of accomplishment,” Edmondson said of what his campaign offers voters, “And still say that I’ve been out of office for the last eight years so I have an alibi for everything bad that has happened in Oklahoma.”
During those eight years of retirement Edmondson saw one crisis after another hit the state, from mental health funding to education to health care.
“My goodness our life expectancy has gone down,” Edmondson told FOX 25, “That is not something we expect to see in the United States of America, but it happened here in Oklahoma. It is one thing that our bond rating when down after two years of billion dollar holes in the budget, but when we start losing our life expectancy because of our health outcomes I think that is a serious situation.”
Edmondson favors Oklahoma opting into the Medicaid expansion. The idea has been opposed by current Republican leadership in Oklahoma who have said it would be irresponsible to take the federal dollars because the amount of money available has no long-term guarantee.
“People could die from lack of health care in five or ten years as well,” Edmondson said in response to the current political criticism. “I don't think it is short sighted. I don't think the Affordable Care Act is going away and we have been short sighted in not accepting the money; we sent hundreds of millions of our tax dollars here in Oklahoma to other states to help with their medical problems without accepting the benefit of that for ourselves.”
Edmondson said another of Oklahoma’s “self-inflicted” funding problems is tax policy, including the controversial capital gains tax exemption.
“[The exemption] was intended to increase revenue by having that money reinvested; that failed,” Edmondson told FOX 25. “Over a five-year period we gained $9 million, but it cost us $475 million; so, nice try, it didn't work it is time to take that off the books.”
Edmondson joined teachers during the historic walkout at the capitol. He supports further education funding, but said the experience of walking and meeting with teachers taught him even more about the crisis in Oklahoma classrooms.
“I learned a lot, one of the things I learned is class size is important the number of teachers we have that are not fully certified is important.”