Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Tulsa World Endorses Ryan Leonard In AG Race

By The Tulsa World's Editorial Writers ~ This election season marks the first time in 16 years that voters will fill an open seat for attorney general.

During his four terms in the office, Drew Edmondson, the state's top law enforcer, has worked tirelessly on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma. When he steps down as AG in January, he will leave behind big shoes to fill. He also will leave behind a tradition worth continuing — running the office as a nonpartisan operation.

All Oklahomans should expect and insist that the attorney general's office continue to operate in that manner no matter who succeeds Edmondson.

In the July 27 primary, voters will take the first step in selecting a successor to Edmondson, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor. On the Republican side, the race is between two conservative attorneys, Ryan Leonard and Scott Pruitt.

Before going into private practice in Oklahoma City, Leonard, 38, served as a Canadian County assistant district attorney and for four years as a senior aide to former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles.

Pruitt, 42, is a former Broken Arrow state senator and, more recently, a part owner in the Red Hawks, the Oklahoma City minor league baseball team.

Leonard, with his prosecutorial background, is the better qualified choice and deserves his party's nomination for attorney general. Given his top-notch litigation skills and familiarity with criminal and civil laws, Leonard has the diverse skill-set to run the "state's law firm" in the manner in which Oklahomans have come to expect.

As a fourth-generation Oklahoman who has lived in urban and rural areas, Leonard understands the needs of the state. Leonard grew up in the Panhandle helping his grandfather farm. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma College of Law. For most of the past several years he has lived in Oklahoma City.

High on Leonard's agenda is creation of a positive legal environment in which Oklahoma small businesses can create jobs.

He is a proponent of transparency in government and in defending private property rights. And, as a prosecutor, he has seen first hand the importance of standing up for crime victims and in fighting public corruption.

Leonard and Pruitt have signaled that they are concerned about federal encroachment on states' rights, and, as attorney general, would join several other state attorneys general in a constitutional challenge to the recently passed federal health care plan.

Given the amount of controversy that legislation has generated, the air should be cleared on its legality.

The choice between the two Republican candidates in the primary is a clear one. Both are conservative. Both have the interests of Oklahomans at heart.

But Leonard has the more diverse credentials, which would serve him well as attorney general.

In November, the winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Jim Priest, who drew no primary opposition.

Leonard has the better skill-set to serve as Oklahoma's attorney general. He deserves the Republican nomination.

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