Oklahoma Rep. Wes Watkins says he will not seek another term in 2002

Monday, December 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Republican Rep. Wes Watkins said Monday that he will not run for re-election in 2002 and blamed Democrats for planning new districts that would cut him off from his constituents.

Watkins said ``every map being discussed by the Democrat-controlled state Legislature'' places his Stillwater residence outside the 3rd Congressional District he represents.

Oklahoma will lose one of its six congressmen in 2002 because census figures show its population did not grow as fast as other states. State lawmakers have not yet come up with new congressional districts.

Watkins, 63, said he does not want to move or run in a district in which he doesn't live. He also doesn't want to run against a fellow incumbent Republican.

Watkins also cited personal reasons for his decision.

``I owe my family more of my time,'' Watkins said. ``I missed a lot of my kids growing up and I don't want to miss my grandkids growing up. This is the right time to devote more time to my family.''

Rep. J.C. Watts Jr., R-Okla., said he was disheartened to learn that Watkins would not seek re-election. He called him a friend and an ally.

``Although the state will lose Wes Watkins vote in the 108th Congress, Oklahoma will never lose Wes as a strong advocate for our values and concerns,'' he said.

Watkins held the seat as a Democrat from 1977-91, then headed an investment company in Stillwater. He was elected again in 1996 as a Republican and was re-elected twice. He serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. Before Watkins, the district was represented by Carl Albert, who was House speaker.