Legislators sign up for open speaker position

Tuesday, January 29th 2008, 7:18 pm
By: News 9

By Alex Cameron, NEWS 9

Only one person has filed to fill the Speaker of the House position vacated by Lance Cargill earlier this week.

John Wright of Broken Arrow was the only legislator who has filed for the position as of Tuesday. Wright challenged Cargill for the Speakers position this past October.

When Cargill announced he was giving up the speaker's post yesterday, it temporarily elevated the Speaker Pro Tem, Gus Blackwell, to the House's top spot.

House Floor Leader Greg Piatt, who was rumored to be a possible speaker candidate, said he hopes Blackwell's ascension becomes permanent.

"I'm supporting him for the next speaker because he provides that continuity to get us through these next four months and still be a viable entity in negotiating with the senate and negotiating with the governor for what we believe is important to Oklahoma," Piatt said.

Political Science professor and NEWS 9 pollster Keith Gaddie said the reality is, if Blackwell is elected Speaker, the House will function much like it did under Cargill's leadership, which he said he thinks isn't necessarily good, given the ethical and personal issues that forced Cargill out.

"The issues and allegations surrounding Speaker Cargill are part and parcel of a bigger problem in this state, which is do we really have elected officials who know how to play by the rules," Gaddie said.

Anyone wanting to run for speaker must file by Friday. The House Republican caucus will meet next Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. and elect a new Speaker, the pro-tem and the caucus chairman.

Session then convenes at noon with the governor's state of the state address.