Thursday, December 4th 2003, 12:00 am
News On 6
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ North Carolina Sen. John Edwards was among those filing for Oklahoma's Feb. 3 presidential primary Wednesday as the three-day filing period ended.
Edwards joined a large field of Democrats in the race in Oklahoma. Also filing for the Democratic primary on Wednesday were Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr., a perennial candidate from Virginia, and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.
Edwards released a statement announcing he would be back in Oklahoma on Monday and Tuesday for appearances in Oklahoma City and Norman.
``Oklahoma is going to play an important role in this election, and I'm excited to return to the state next week,'' he said.
Edwards already has been in Oklahoma 10 times, more than any other candidate.
Ward Curtin, director of Edwards' Oklahoma campaign, said the senator had widespread support and had been endorsed by 29 of 80 incumbent Democratic legislators.
In all, nine Democrats filed papers with the state Election Board and paid $2,500 filing fees before Wednesday's 5 p.m. deadline.
On Tuesday, Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry made their Oklahoma candidacies official.
Democrats filing on Monday were Howard Dean, former Vermont governor; Wesley Clark, retired Army general from Arkansas; Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt and Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich.
President Bush also filed Monday. He is being challenged in Oklahoma's Republican primary by Bill Wyatt of Los Angeles, an unsuccessful candidate in the California recall election.
Former Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun, one of the Democratic candidates taking part in a presidential forum in August at Oklahoma State University, did not file by Wednesday's deadline.
In the past, Oklahoma's primary drew little notice when it was held in March with several other states.
That changed when the Legislature voted this year to hold the primary on Feb. 3.
Oklahoma is one of seven states holding primaries on that date, a week after the New Hampshire primary, the nation's first of any state.