State Senator Running For Inhofe Seat

Wednesday, September 5th 2007, 10:41 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ A first-term Democratic state senator from Oklahoma City officially announced Wednesday that he's running for the Senate seat occupied by Republican Jim Inhofe. Andrew Rice said Washington suffers from partisan gridlock and what he called ``play-it-safe politics.'' He said he wants to help steer the country in a new direction.

``The faith the people have in Washington is probably at the lowest it's been in a long time,'' the 34-year-old lawmaker said at a news conference in Tulsa. Rice planned a similar announcement conference Wednesday afternoon in Oklahoma City.

Rice, whose brother was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, said the race is a personal one for him. He said he is committed to bringing the troops home and called the decision to go into Iraq a ``very rash and dangerous thing to do.''

He said the situation has been too politicized and added that a majority of military equipment the U.S. needs to deal with “a real, viable threat'' is in Iraq.

``(We are) bogged down in a war in a country that didn't have anything to do with the murder of my brother,'' Rice said. ``The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are not in Iraq and they never have been.''

He pledged to be ``an open book'' if elected, and to keep his constituents informed by posting a daily schedule on his Website.

``You should know who I'm meeting with, who I am having dinner with, you should know who is giving me money,'' he said.

Inhofe, 72, was elected to fill an unexpired term in 1994 and was re-elected to the Senate in 1996 and 2002. He has strongly backed the war in Iraq and has become a lightning rod for his positions on global warming, among others.

Josh Kivett, Inhofe's campaign manager, said in a statement that the senator ``has been a consistent, conservative leader on issues of importance to Oklahoma and the nation,'' and ``is exactly the leader Oklahomans want in Washington as our state enters its second century.''

Kivett also said Inhofe has been elected by wide margins in each of his previous Senate campaigns because the voters of Oklahoma know and trust him.

Rice acknowledged the challenges of unseating an incumbent, but said he wants to give voters an alternative.

``If there's a year, this is a year where people are wanting change,'' he said.

Gov. Brad Henry and Attorney General Drew Edmondson, two potential Democratic candidates for Inhofe's seat, have recently taken their names out of the race.

Henry said he wants to finish his term, which runs through 2010, and Edmondson said he would not consider such a race until a lawsuit he filed against poultry companies has been settled.