Posted 14:48PM on June 10 2009
Good morning. Thank you all for coming today.
My wife, Linda, joins me today along with our son Robert and his wife Andrea. Our daughter Mary and her husband Mike live in Virginia with their twins Andrew and Catherine, who were born in November.
I am here today, at the start of a multi-county tour, to announce that, from this moment, I am a candidate for Governor in the 2010 election. Linda joins me in this effort. She grew up on a wheat farm in Fargo, and I brought her with me to Muskogee so she moved from western Oklahoma to eastern Oklahoma. She has been my partner for 42 years. Please join me in welcoming Linda Edmondson.
As many of you know, I grew up in a family with a tradition of service to Oklahoma and our country. My father and mother both served in the Navy during the Second World War and my dad went on to serve in Congress.
Both of my parents instilled in me a sense of duty and responsibility to the state and country that have been so good to us. I served in the Navy during the Vietnam
War having been stationed at Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Saigon.
I went on to become a teacher in my hometown of Muskogee. Then I went to law school and became a prosecutor and eventually District Attorney in Muskogee County. That’s where I learned that nothing is more important than protecting our citizens from crime and standing up for the victims of crime.
Something else I have learned is that partisan politics does absolutely nothing to help the victim of a crime.
It’s time our elected officials started doing what’s right for Oklahoma instead of what’s right for their political party … or for themselves.
That’s the approach I brought with me to the attorney general’s office. It doesn’t matter to me whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, if you’re a public official and you abuse the public’s trust, I’m coming after you.
If you commit a violent crime, I’m going to do everything I can to keep you locked up for a long, long time.
If you try to take advantage of Oklahoma – through unfair trade practices, polluting our water, or stealing our water, I’m going to fight you in every way I can.
As Attorney General I’ve always tried to do what’s right for Oklahoma.
We have tremendous assets in Oklahoma, starting with the strength of our people, who are energetic and willing to work hard.
We have an abundance of natural resources – oil, natural gas, and now an abundance of new, wind energy.
We are a transportation hub, with interstate highways intersecting the state east and west, north and south. We have water transportation with our ports at Catoosa and Muskogee. And good rail access, too.
And we have a career tech system that’s the envy of not only other states but other countries … they send delegations here often to study how our system works. We can match trained workers to any industry’s requirements through our career tech schools.
We have outstanding colleges and universities and an improving public school system.
Governor Brad Henry has sought to take advantage of our strengths in Oklahoma, and we’ve made great strides under his leadership.
But, we’re still last on too many lists where we want to be first, and we’re first on too many lists where we want to be last.
We’re near the top in teen pregnancies, smoking and obesity, and near the bottom in healthy lifestyles.
We’re near the top in high school dropouts and near the bottom in college degrees per capita.
We’re highest in the country in women’s incarceration. We’re low in the number of businesses owned by women.
With all our strengths … all our economic assets, we should be doing better in Oklahoma. I’m optimistic about Oklahoma’s future, I know we can do it, I know our people want to keep moving forward … and they want an end to the partisan politics that are holding us back.
As Attorney General I’ve fought to protect Oklahomans against crime, I’ve stood up against special interests, and I’ve taken on corrupt politicians.
As Governor, I’m going to fight the same way to create good paying jobs and make sure all Oklahomans have access to quality, affordable health care.
As District Attorney in Muskogee County, I took a hard line against drunk driving and drug dealers because both take innocent lives.
As attorney general, I’m especially proud of my role in helping pass the first law in the country that restricts the sale of pseudoephedrine, the key ingredient used to make methamphetamine. Because of this law we’ve had a 90 percent drop in the number of meth labs in only five years.
I’ve always felt the most important responsibility of any elected official is to protect those least able to protect themselves … the most vulnerable Oklahomans, especially children.
And nowhere is that vulnerability greater than on the Internet, where the worst of our society preys on the weakest. We’ve made some real progress in protecting children from internet predators through agreements we’ve reached with MySpace and
Facebook – allowing parents to prevent their children from setting up a social networking account, and keeping accounts for children under 18 inaccessible to the public without prior approval.
I’ve fought to protect our most vulnerable seniors, too. My office has prosecuted over twenty-nine hundred cases of fraud and patient abuse in nursing homes. I’m never going to stand by and allow harm to patients.
I’ve also worked to change the focus of our criminal justice system so the rights of crime victims are fully represented in court and elsewhere. I created the Victims Service Unit in the Attorney General’s office and fought for the first increase in funding to help the victims of domestic violence in more than a dozen years.
I’ve protected the taxpayers, too, and when it comes to cutting waste and creating resources for our highest priorities … well, I know how to do it because I’ve done it.
I’ve won over 33 million dollars for the state cracking down on Medicaid fraud. We’ve gotten half a billion dollars so far from the tobacco industry that has gone to improve the health of Oklahomans. And we’ve used money from our settlement with SBC to put state of the art computers in schools and provide advanced computer training for teachers.
One of our most precious resources in Oklahoma is our water … after all, agriculture depends on a clean water supply, water recreation is a thriving industry in Eastern Oklahoma, and people rely on it for drinking.
One of my proudest accomplishments as Attorney General is cracking down on polluters and making sure our drinking water is safe, and if anybody wants to make it an issue in this campaign, bring it on.
As Governor, I’m going to stand up for Oklahomans by working the same way to get our economy moving again and create jobs.
Taxpayers want an efficient government, an effective government … not politicians more interested in headlines than progress.
We’re an energy state. Though we’ve diversified our economy in recent years, coal, oil and natural gas still are an important part of our economy. As Governor I’m going to do all I can to make sure those industries continue to grow and prosper.
But those who say that should be the extent of Oklahoma’s energy policy are wrong. We have an abundance of renewable energy in Oklahoma, too. It is essential to America’s national security as well as our economy for us to become energy independent – and developing renewable energy along with domestic oil and natural gas are the ways to do it.
We have to do it all!
Oklahoma needs to be looking at how we can best help entrepreneurs start new clean energy businesses, as well as help our existing companies grow. There’s an enormous amount of technological development on the horizon in clean energy, and there’s no need for Oklahoma or our country cede those jobs to other states or countries.
Oklahoma is an energy leader … let’s make sure it stays that way with new energy sources, too.
I’m going to be a Governor who pays attention to what business needs … because that’s where the jobs come from. And I hear from business all the time we need to keep improving our public schools – they want an educated workforce.
And good public schools start with recruiting and retaining the best teachers. Governor Henry has made this his top priority the past seven years and it shows – we’ve made significant gains in teacher pay. But we’re still losing too many of our best teachers to other states, and other industries, too.
I believe we need to make our teacher compensation competitive nationally, not just with bordering states. But people ask how can we possibly do that, and with good reason. We can cut more waste and fraud from the state budget and my record as Attorney General shows I know how to do it. But there’s only one truthful answer to completely solving our problem with teacher compensation – by revving up our
economy -- and that’s going to be my priority as Governor.
We must work to make higher education more affordable and accessible to every Oklahoman. Higher education isn’t a luxury. Today, it is an economic necessity.
And while Oklahoma is intersected by interstate highways, we need to keep improving our roads and bridges, many of which are in disrepair. It’s important to our economy in several ways: getting workers to the available jobs, new business development, and shipping Oklahoma goods and agricultural products to other parts of the country and the rest of the world.
Improved transportation is especially critical to bringing more good paying jobs to rural Oklahoma. As Governor, I’m going to initiate a comprehensive effort to strengthen our rural communities, with better roads, schools, health care, and job recruitment. We’re going to have an economic development plan for every Oklahoma county, not just our urban areas.
I believe in Oklahoma … I believe our state is the best place in America to live and raise a family and there’s no reason we can’t make Oklahoma number one in the right categories instead of the wrong ones.
We can be the leader in new energy jobs.
We can reduce our prison population with better drug education programs … and better jobs.
We can keep increasing teacher pay until we’re competitive with the national average … if we take full advantage of our strengths as a state and create those jobs.
And we can reduce the number of high school dropouts and increase the number of college and technical school graduates. More kids will stay in school and get a higher education degree if they know there’s a job waiting in Oklahoma … and that’s going to be my job as Governor.
Linda and I already are on the road taking this message to every part of Oklahoma. With your help we can win this election and keep Oklahoma grand!
I ask you to keep us in your prayers as we embark upon this journey, during the course of this campaign and in the years ahead. Thank you for being here. God bless you, and may God bless the great state of Oklahoma.