Benge Announces Commitment to Remain House SpeakerBenge had been rumored in the past few months to have been considering jumping in the race for either State Treasurer or Governor.
OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 3, 2009)—Despite speculation that House Speaker Chris Benge may enter the race for State Treasurer, Benge said today he does not intend to seek any other political office at this time.
"Though I am honored by the encouragement of my family, my friends, and many others, I don't plan to be a candidate for State Treasurer or any other office in 2010," said Benge, R-Tulsa. "I have plenty to focus on as Speaker of the House, and I look forward to leading the House in my last year as we work to position Oklahoma to prosper in the future."
Benge was elected House Speaker by unanimous consent in 2008. Since then, Benge has been known as a leader who negotiates fairly and builds consensus among the various factions of House members to accomplish policy objectives.
Benge has enjoyed success in many areas of policy over his legislative career, and looks forward to continuing to work in these areas during his last year in the Legislature.
As both Appropriations and Budget Chairman and then as Speaker, he helped craft the two largest tax cuts in Oklahoma history, and has worked to significantly increase funding for Oklahoma's roads and bridges.
Most recently, Benge received nationwide attention and praise for his plan to rely more on natural gas-powered vehicles as a way to help reduce our country’s dependence on foreign oil.
This year he also worked to secure funding for the Oklahoma State Medical Center, which provided stability to its residency program while also continuing needed indigent care in the Tulsa region.
Benge was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998, at the age of 36. By the time his current term ends, he will have served the full 12 years in the Legislature allowed under the Oklahoma Constitution.
I did notice one thing in his statement, which was released this afternoon. It stated that "[H]e does not intend to seek any other political office at this time." (emphasis mine)
Does the Speaker still have an eye on higher office? Only time will tell. You can be sure that you can find any new developments right here at Muskogee Politico, once they happen.