First lady to make race official

Thursday, April 5th 2001, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

(OKLAHOMA CITY) - Oklahoma first lady Cathy Keating will announce Saturday that she will run for the 1st Congressional District seat, sources told The Associated Press Thursday.

Mrs. Keating, who describes herself as ``a conservative with compassion,'' will make the announcement official at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Tulsa Press Club.

In a story from its Washington Bureau, The Tulsa World quoted unnamed sources Thursday as saying she would run. Sources in Oklahoma, speaking only on condition of anonymity, confirmed the report to The Associated Press.

Mrs. Keating told The AP in an interview last week that she was ``leaning strongly'' toward running and would make an announcement soon.

``I think she wants to make her decision public when she can do so to everyone at the same time,'' said Deby Snodgrass of Cole Hargrave Snodgrass and Associates of Oklahoma City, which was involved in Gov. Frank Keating's campaigns.

Mrs. Keating, a Republican, also is scheduled to make an appearance at the state GOP convention in Oklahoma City later Saturday, Snodgrass said.

In the AP interview, Mrs. Keating said she is at a turning point in her life with her children grown and out of the house and her husband's second term as governor winding down.

She said she has learned as first lady ``what makes me tick is helping people'' and she thinks she has the qualities and experience to be an effective member of Congress.

Republican Rep. Steve Largent is considering resigning the 1st District seat early to focus full time on a gubernatorial bid. His seat is up for re-election in November 2002.

He has not formally declared his candidacy for governor but has said he plans to run. That election would also be in November 2002.

If he resigned, it would be up to Keating to call a special election to fill the unexpired term.

That election could come late this year or early next year.

Two others interested in running, State Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, and former Cherokee Nation chief Ross Swimmer, have formed exploratory committees.

Sen. Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow, said he will soon have an announcement on steps he will take toward a possible candidacy.

Pruitt said he is not surprised Mrs. Keating is running. He said that fact ``is immaterial'' to his own possible candidacy.

Other Republicans considering the race are former City Councilor Dewey Bartlett Jr. and former University of Tulsa football coach Dave Rader.

Republican state Chairman Steve Edwards and Howard Barnett, the governor's chief of staff, said previously that they would not run if Mrs. Keating became a candidate.

Democrats looking at the race include Tulsa attorney and current school board member Doug Dodd and former Tulsa County Democratic Chairman Tim Gilpin.


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