Largent wins in Okla. primary

By JIM CAMPBELL  |  Aug. 28, 2002 at 1:10 AM
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- Former Republican congressman and NFL Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent easily won his party's nomination for governor Tuesday, while Democrats Vince Orza and state Sen. Brad Henry appeared headed to a runoff in the race to succeed Gov. Frank Keating.

Largent, who resigned after three terms in Congress to run for governor, will face the winner of a Democratic runoff and Independent Gary Richardson in the Nov. 5 general election. Largent spent more than $1.5 million in the primary and garnered 87 percent of the vote against token opposition.

Orza, a former educator, TV newsman, and restaurateur from Edmond, led the Democratic field with 44 percent of the vote but faced the runoff with State Sen. Brad Henry of Shawnee who drew 28 percent.

Twelve years ago, Orza led a GOP primary for governor, only to lose it in the runoff. He switched his party affiliated from Republican to Democrat last year.

This is the first time since 1994 that the governor's race doesn't have an incumbent. Gov. Keating is completing his second four-year term and is barred by the Oklahoma Constitution from running again.

Pollster Tom Cole won a battle of Republican heavyweights to succeed retiring Rep. J.C. Watts, the only black Republican in Congress. Cole, who had Watts' endorsement, won without a runoff over Norman attorney Marc Nuttle in the 4th district.

Cole, who had 59 percent of the vote to Nuttle's 34, will face the winner of an apparent Democratic runoff between former State Sen. Darryl Roberts and Norman attorney Ben Odom. Roberts had 49 percent to Odom's 35 in a three-candidate race.

Former Gov. David Walters led Tulsa attorney and author Tom Boettcher for the Democratic nomination to challenge Sen. Jim Inhofe, who was unopposed. But Walters, at 49 percent, was shy of the magic 50 percent plus 1 vote necessary to avoid a runoff with Boettcher, who had about 34 percent in a four-man race. Independent James Germalic of Stigler also will be on the November ballot.

Republican Rep. John Sullivan, who won a special election to succeed Largent in 1st District, defeated Evelyn Rogers with 82 percent of the vote and will face Democrat Doug Dodd and Independent Joe Cristiano in November.

The lone Democrat in Oklahoma's congressional delegation, Brad Carson of Claremore, defeated state Rep. Mike Mass of Hartshorne in the primary and will face Republican Kent Pharoah of Henryetta in the 2nd district.

Incumbent Republican Rep. Frank Lucas took 91 percent of the vote against Richard Hovis of Enid in the 3rd district and will face independent Robert T. Murphy of Norman in the general election.

Rep. Earnest Istook of Warr Acres did not have GOP primary opposition in the 5th district and will meet Democrat Lou Barlow of Oklahoma City and independent Donna Davis of Edmond in November.

Oklahoma County District Attorney Wes Lane, who favors a state death penalty trial for Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, led challenger Mickey Homsey 2-1 in a GOP primary. Homsey opposes the trial.

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