Congress races draw attention

Wednesday, July 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- All of Oklahoma's incumbent congressmen and the only state official on the ballot are assured of some degree of opposition in the November general election, thanks to independent and Libertarian Party candidates. But heading into Wednesday's final day of the filing period, almost half of the incumbents up for re-election had not drawn foes for the Aug. 22 primary or the Nov. 7 general election.

Thirteen of the 23 Senate incumbents seeking re-election had no opponents at the close of business on Tuesday. Neither did 44 incumbents in the 101-member House. Republican Steve Largent drew two more opponents for his 1stCongressional District post Tuesday. They are Democrat Dan Lowe, 46-year-old attorney-rancher, and Libertarian Party member Michael A. Clem, 35, who works at an adult learning center.

Libertarian candidates also filed in the 2nd Congressional District and for corporation commissioner. Lowe and Clem joined Republican Evelyn L. Rogers in the 1stDistrict race. All of the candidates are from Tulsa.

It will be Lowe's third run at public office. He ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 1998 and for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination four years ago.

Lowe accused Largent, a former pro football star, of being more interested in promoting himself and running for governor two years from now than in representing the interests of the 1st District. "The people of the 1st District deserve a full-time representative and not a seat warmer," he said. Lowe criticized Largent's record on health care, saying that will be a major issue. He said he had not started fund-raising but did not think money would be a problem. "I'll put on a good race," he said.

Largent filed Monday, the opening day of the three-day filing period, as did the other four GOP incumbent congressmen who are seeking re-election. Republican Rep. Tom Coburn of Muskogee is keeping a pledge to bow out after three terms in the 2nd District. His departure led to eight candidates filing to be his successor, with seven filing Monday. The latest 2nd District aspirant is Libertarian Neil Mavis, 37, of Tulsa.

Libertarian Richard Prawdzienski, 42, of Edmond filed for the Corporation Commission post held by Republican Bob Anthony. Prawdzienski is a decorated former U.S. Marine who served two years in Vietnam. He retired after 20 years with the Air Force as an acquisition logistics manager at Tinker Air Force Base. Prawdzienski said he opposes excessive regulation and wants to cut government-business ties that he said lead to corporate welfare.

Anthony filed for re-election on Monday. The race is the only statewide contest in the fall elections. As the filing period neared a windup, 3rd Congressional District incumbent Wes Watkins, a Republican from Stillwater, still had no Democratic or GOP opponents. His only opposition came from little-known independent Argus Yandell Jr., also from Stillwater. Veteran Sen. Gene Stipe, D-McAlester, was among the large group of incumbent legislators without opposition so far.