OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Former Lt. Gov. Jack Mildren announced on Monday that he will not run for governor next year.
Citing a need to devote time to a new business venture, Mildren, 52, said he is dissolving his exploratory committee for governor and will refund money to supporters.
``I appreciate the support that people across Oklahoma have given to my campaign, but this particular campaign year is not yet the time for my campaign,'' the former Democratic official said. ``I look forward to remaining active in Oklahoma politics.''
Mildren said he is ``having fun'' as chairman and chief operating officer of Periscope Holdings Inc., a technology holding company formed in May of this year.
A former standout quarterback at the University of Oklahoma, Mildren ran for governor in 1992, but finished second to Republican Frank Keating.
U.S. Rep. Wes Watkins campaigned for governor as an independent that year and pulled a lot of Democratic votes away from Mildren in the 3rd Congressional District, traditionally a Democratic stronghold.
Watkins later switched to the Republican Party and won back the post he represented for 14 years as a Democrat.
Businessman Vince Orza also has been considering a race for the Democratic nomination, but issued a statement in September indicating he was having second thoughts.
Orza said he was postponing a decision to focus on his family after a series of deaths in his family, including the death of his mother.
The exit of Mildren leaves the Democratic Party without a well-known active candidate for governor at this time.
U.S. Rep. Steve Largent is resigning his congressional seat early to make the race. Also campaigning for the GOP nomination are Jerry Regier, a member of Keating's cabinet, and motivational speaker Jim Denny, whose children were injured in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Gary Richardson, prominent Tulsa lawyer, is running as an independent and already has begun running television commercials promoting his candidacy.