TULSA, Okla. (AP) — A candidate for Oklahoma governor who once said the state needed a militia to protect itself from the federal government has dissolved a corporation set up to support his campaign.
Randy Brogdon's campaign on Wednesday included a reference to "Brogdon for U.S. Senate" but neither the ex-legislator nor his campaign returned messages asking whether the Republican intended to enter a different race. Several messages seeking comment were left on Brogdon's cellphone and at a number for media inquiries at Brogdon's campaign headquarters.
Ashley Jackson with the Secretary of State's office said Wednesday that "Randy Brogdon for Governor 2014 Inc." had been dissolved less than two months after being set up.
And according to records filed Tuesday with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, Brogdon appears to have zeroed out his gubernatorial account. The report also shows Brogdon returned nearly $3,000 on Monday to donors to his governor's campaign.
Brogdon's website Tuesday included references to the governor's race, but the same site Wednesday included none. On a contact page, the site directed correspondence to a Tulsa address listed as "Brogdon for U.S. Senate," although the address for his Senate campaign appeared to be only a mail drop, not a physical office.
Oklahoma will have two U.S. Senate elections this year — a special election for the final two years of Tom Coburn's term and a six-year term for the seat currently held by Sen. Jim Inhofe. Two high-profile Republicans are already vying for Coburn's seat — former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon and U.S. Rep. James Lankford.
Shannon's spokesman said it was too early to comment on Brogdon's plans, and a spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, who is running for re-election, declined to comment until Brogdon made an official announcement. A message left Wednesday afternoon for a Lankford representative wasn't immediately returned.
Brogdon, 60, is a former Republican state senator who rode a wave of tea party support in 2010 to nearly 39 percent of the vote in the GOP primary against Fallin and two lesser known challengers.
The owner of a heating and air conditioning company who consistently railed against the size of government during his gubernatorial campaign, Brogdon boosted his government retirement benefits after the election by taking a $99,000-a-year state job at the Oklahoma Department of Insurance. He was among several ex-legislators hired by GOP Insurance Commissioner John Doak, who was part of a Republican sweep of statewide offices on the ballot in 2010.
In an AP interview in 2010, Brogdon said he supported the creation of a state militia to protect Oklahoma 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.
Brogdon has been in Washington recently, courting tea party-leaning groups.
"We're still assessing (Brogdon's) candidacy and this race," Daniel Horowitz, policy director for The Madison Project, said Wednesday in an email to the AP. "I can't confirm 100 percent that today is the announcement; we just thought it would be soon."
Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said in a statement Wednesday that the group was "watching the race."