Democrat enters Oklahoma AG race

by Chris Rizo |
Nov. 23, 2009, 12:03am

Jim Priest (D)

Ryan Leonard (R)

OKLAHOMA CITY (Legal Newsline)-A Democrat has finally jumped into the race for Oklahoma attorney general.

Jim Priest of Oklahoma City has announced he wants to succeed fellow Democrat Drew Edmondson as the state's chief legal officer. Edmondson is running for governor next year.

Priest, 54, said his three decades of legal experience -- most recently as a trial lawyer -- makes him the ideal candidate.

"My priority as attorney general will be assuring public safety for the people of Oklahoma. That includes combating crime, protecting consumers and businesses against various kinds of fraud and safeguarding our natural resources," Priest said.

The former president of the board for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma and a board member for Habitat for Humanity, Priest said his reasons for running for AG are simple.

"I am not running for attorney general because I need a job and I'm not a politician looking for a government career," he said. "I want to be the lawyer looking out for and protecting the people and the state of Oklahoma."

Priest is a named Partner in the law firm Whitten, Burrage, Priest, Fulmer, Anderson & Eisel, where he practices employment and civil rights law.

Already, two Republicans have announced their interest in the AG post. They are state Sen. Clark Jolley of Edmond and attorney Ryan Leonard. If either is elected, it will mark the first time the state has had a Republican attorney general in nearly four decades.

Jolley, a 39-year-old Republican elected to the Senate in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, has said as attorney general he would work to create jobs in the Sooner State and fight to reduce frivolous lawsuits.

Leonard, too, has vowed to promote a favorable business climate in Oklahoma.

"It is critically important that you have an attorney general who understands the importance of economic development, who supports business growth and creating jobs, and I certainly do," Leonard said in an earlier interview with Legal Newsline. "We need to do everything we can do to create business

Leonard served as a legislative aide to former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., and as an assistant district attorney in Canadian County. He is the son of Senior U.S. District Judge Tim Leonard of the Western District of Oklahoma and is the son-in-law of former Gov. Frank Keating.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at

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