First lady says governor is sorry about remark he made about 1st District voters

Thursday, December 20th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ First lady Cathy Keating said the governor is sorry about a remark he made about 1st Congressional District voters after his wife withdrew from the race for the Republican nomination.

``Anytime my husband is under fire or under attack, the darts always go through my heart first before they hit his,'' Mrs. Keating said Wednesday of her husband, Gov. Frank Keating. ``It is always harder on a spouse because you love somebody, and you see a different perspective than anybody else sees.''

The governor called 1st District voters ``very dumb'' for not choosing his wife over state Rep. John Sullivan, who led her 46 percent to 30 percent after the Dec. 11 GOP primary.

Sullivan and Mrs. Keating would have faced each other again in a runoff because Sullivan didn't get 50 percent of the vote. But Mrs. Keating, 51, withdrew from the race before Friday's 5 p.m. deadline.

Governor Keating said with Oklahoma's congressional delegation being pared down from six to five because the population grew slower than in other states from 1990 to 2000, the district needs ``people who will be instant celebrities, instant power centers.''

``I am just saying my hometown, to do this, was very dumb,'' Keating said. ``They did it and they will have to live with it.''

Mrs. Keating said the comment by her husband of nearly 30 years was a mistake.

``He hurt. He hurt for me . 5/8. 5/8. everybody should be so lucky to have somebody who loves them so much as I have with my husband, who is willing to say, `I still think she is the best even though you might not have voted for her'.''

Mrs. Keating said she withdrew because she would have had to negatively campaign against Sullivan.

``In order to close the gap . 5/8. 5/8. you have to go into the politics of personal destruction, and I am just not willing to do that. Never have been; never will be,'' she said. ``I have to live with myself in the end.''

Mrs. Keating also said she did not have the political machinery in place that Sullivan and state Sen. Scott Pruitt had from their House and Senate races. She said there was a perception that she would lead the primary because she had name recognition as first lady.

Polls put her as the frontrunner, and she raised more than $800,000 for the race. But Mrs. Keating said she always believed she was the underdog.

``I had never run for a political office before,'' she said.

Mrs. Keating said her campaign would abide by Federal Election Commission rules on what to do with the remaining contributions to her campaign.

In the meantime, she said she is trying to get her life back on a normal keel. There are piles of letters to answer and, of course, the holidays are here.

``I am just playing catch-up,'' she said. ``And I am trying to get Christmas all together for my family.''