GOP gubernatorial candidates square off at forum in Oklahoma City

Monday, December 5th 2005, 5:52 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Three Republican gubernatorial candidates square off for the first time and take turns blasting Governor Brad Henry over tribal tobacco compacts with the state.

The one-hour debate this weekend was part of the Oklahoma Republican Assembly convention at the state Capitol. Congressman Ernest Istook, state Senator James Williamson and Tulsa businessman Bob Sullivan all participated.

All three say the tobacco compacts Henry helped negotiate were flawed, leading to loopholes that give tribal smoke shops an advantage of nearly $10 a carton over non-tribal stores.

All three agreed lawsuit reform needs to occur, with Sullivan challenging his fellow candidates not to accept campaign contributions from trial attorneys.

Williamson says that won't be difficult for him, but Istook said such a pledge would be difficult for him to keep.