Race for Governor: Gary Richardson

Gary Richardson has been an assistant insurance commissioner, a businessman and a federal prosecutor. (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.

In 2002, Gary Richardson ran for governor as an Independent candidate and a conservative. Despite the change in political affiliation, Richardson said he is running on the same principles as he did back then, but he says the problems facing the state are worse than they have ever been.

“I ran as an independent, because I was convinced I couldn't get elected in the Republican Party because I would not sell out to the leadership that had us in the problem we were in much the same as today but it is worse today,” Richardson said of his past gubernatorial campaign.

He is a registered Republican and said he is still fighting for the principles that first attracted him to the party.

During his career Richardson has served as an assistant insurance commissioner, a businessman and a federal prosecutor. He says those experiences have taught him how to root out corruption and manage large organizations.

“I do believe we have a lot of corruption waste and foolish spending in our state today,” Richardson said. “I think with my background I am very well prepared to deal with the problems.”

Richardson was one of the people who took the state to court against the unconstitutional tax increases passed in 2017.

“I'm saying we do not need to raise taxes,” Richardson told FOX 25. “We're not a poor state we're a poorly run state.”

To that end, Richardson said state agencies should be audited and he has outlined what he believes is wasteful spending that could have been used to provide teacher pay raises without raising taxes.

“We show in there we could have saved back a year ago $450 million a year by some simple steps which would have been enough to give them the raise they were looking for.”

One of the top ways Richardson believes the state could save is eliminating the turnpikes and the ODOT funding of toll roads. He sees the turnpikes as barriers business coming to Oklahoma and says he could phase them out in five years.

“Looks at the difference between Miami, Oklahoma and Joplin [Missouri]. Miami, where the turnpikes are, is a town that's dried up. Joplin 30 miles away is booming truck stops restaurants, economic development,” Richardson told FOX 25.

One of the other keys to saving money in Richardson's plan is with criminal justice reform.

“We're putting too many people in prison that don't need to be in prison and we wonder why,” Richardson said. “One of the reasons, I believe, is we these contracts with private prisons, which I don't believe in, I'm against, we have a contract with them that we guarantee them so many inmates.”

Richardson is counting on his political outsider status to break through the crowded Republican field and believes he can take the party back to its core values.

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