Monday, October 25, 2010

Tulsa World Endorses Jim Priest

Editorial, The Tulsa World ~ It's part and parcel of tough political races for candidates to trash talk each other regarding qualifications for the job. This year's race for state attorney general is no different, and a genuine question exists over which candidate, Republican Scott Pruitt or Democrat Jim Priest, is better prepared to replace Drew Edmondson.

Edmondson, a former prosecutor, has held the post 16 years and is regarded as perhaps the most effective attorney general in state history. He's widely respected among attorneys general nationally and helped lead the charge in negotiating a multistate tobacco settlement that will benefit generations of Oklahomans.

Who is the best choice to succeed him - to hit the ground running? Who would put fairness and practicality above ideology?

Priest, of Oklahoma City, with extensive legal experience, appears to be the better choice. A veteran trial attorney, he knows his way around a courtroom. He also knows how to solve disputes outside one - through negotiation. He has law firm management experience, a much-needed skill in an office with more than 100 attorneys.

Pruitt holds himself out as a constitutional lawyer. But his resume is underwhelming in that regard. He is not a veteran of the courtroom - rarely appearing in one. He might never have actually argued a case to a jury. That is not a deal-breaker in and of itself; an attorney general doesn't often appear in court. But Pruitt is better known for his other career pursuits - politics and baseball - than for his legal skills. He served eight years in the state Senate and twice made unsuccessful runs for higher political office. Since 2002, he's been a co-owner and the managing general partner of the Redhawks, an Oklahoma City Triple-A baseball team.

It doesn't really matter which candidate has spent more time in a courtroom - that is not the measure of an effective attorney general. What does matter is providing leadership at the "state's law firm" and directing its operation in a manner that will benefit the citizens of Oklahoma. That takes a strong hand, an open mind and a good head.

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