TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party is resigning the post to explore the possibility of running for Tulsa mayor in 2002, he said Saturday.
Steve Edwards said he will meet with residents before making a decision in a few weeks.
``I think I have made great strides in my two years in the position, but it's time for me to take a new direction in my life,'' Edwards said, ``and I want to promote a new direction for Tulsa.''
He said he resignation is effective July 28, when GOP leaders from all 77 counties will chose a new leader.
Edwards, 42, said the technology industry is the key to the city's future, despite recent layoffs at Tulsa-based Williams Communications.
``That will all turn around and we need to be ready for it. We need to be out there, aggressively recruiting new businesses to the area.''
A crop of potential Republican candidates has emerged since Mayor Susan Savage announced in May she won't seek re-election. Her term ends April 1.
Former Republican mayoral candidate Terry Simonson has said he will run again, though he hasn't made an official announcement. Former Tulsa District Attorney Bill LaFortune is another possible GOP candidate.
Dewey Bartlett Jr., another prominent Tulsa Republican, has announced he won't run for mayor.
Edwards served as chief of staff for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe from 1993-99 before being elected chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party.
He also served in the Reagan administration in the U.S. Department of Energy and in former President Bush's administration at the White House.
In Tulsa, the mayor's duties are similar to a city manager. Savage currently oversees a $480 million budget.
Municipal filings begin January 14. The primary election will be held Feb. 5, while the general election will be held March 5.