OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A former Republican state senator and tea party favorite who once supported the creation of a state militia to protect Oklahoma from an “overreaching federal government” plans to run for governor again.
Randy Brogdon, who lost to Gov. Mary Fallin in the 2010 Republican primary and then boosted his government retirement benefits by taking a $99,000-a-year state job after the election, announced through social media he will challenge Fallin next year.
The Secretary of State’s office said a “Brogdon for Governor” corporation was formed last week, and Brogdon told the Tulsa World newspaper Thursday that he felt “compelled” to fight for liberty through another run.
Brogdon did not return numerous telephone and email messages left by The Associated Press, and a law firm that filed paperwork with the Secretary of State did not return messages left by telephone.
With broad tea party support in 2010, Brogdon won 39 percent of the vote against Fallin and two lesser-known challengers. After that race, Brogdon, the owner of a heating and air conditioning company, went to work for the Oklahoma Insurance Department.
He was one of several former Republican legislators hired as deputy commissioners by GOP Insurance Commissioner John Doak, who was elected as part of a Republican sweep of statewide offices on the ballot in 2010.
Brogdon, who consistently railed against the size of government, worked as a deputy insurance commissioner until he announced in November that he planned to step down. His three years on the state payroll allowed him to increase his monthly benefit by more than 50 percent, according to estimates from the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System.
Al Gerhart, co-founder of the Sooner Tea Party, said it’s not clear whether Brogdon’s three years as a state bureaucrat will affect his credibility with tea party voters.
“Well, we’re going to find out, aren’t we?” Gerhart said. “I’d guess you’d say he’s not the perfect candidate, but there aren’t any perfect candidates out there.”
Gerhart is facing felony blackmail and computer crimes charges for sending an email to a state senator who testified he felt threatened by its tone. Gerhart has pleaded not guilty and claims the charges are politically motivated.
In an AP interview in 2010, Brogdon said he supported the creation of a state militia to protect the state against an overreaching federal government. After a backlash, Brogdon retreated from that position and suggested he was referring to a National Guard-type unit to aid the state during civil emergencies.
A spokesman for the Fallin campaign said Brogdon’s entry into the race will not change the governor’s plan to focus on the state’s thriving economy and her accomplishments during her first four years in office.
“This campaign never expected to run unopposed,” Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz said in a statement. “Our strategy is not going to change, regardless of who enters this race.”
Rush Springs state Rep. Joe Dorman and R.J. Harris, of Norman, both have indicated plans to run for the Democratic nomination.