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Dan Boren Contemplating Governor's Run; David Boren Advises Against It

Then-U.S. Rep. Dan Boren talking with former President Bill Clinton during a 2011 meeting of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative Democrats in New York.
Blue Dog Coalition
U.S. House of Representatives
Then-U.S. Rep. Dan Boren talking with former President Bill Clinton during a 2011 meeting of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative Democrats in New York.

Dan Boren, a former Democratic congressman from one of Oklahoma's most distinguished political families, says he's actively exploring a run for Oklahoma's open governor seat in 2018.

After spending the last three years working on business development for the Chickasaw Nation, Boren told The Associated Press that he's started meeting with state political and business leaders and developing policy proposals in preparation for a potential candidacy.

“I am taking all of the necessary steps to become a candidate for governor and I will make a final decision at the end of this year,'' Boren said in an interview Friday. ``I began taking some of those steps late last year by visiting with business leaders, community leaders, civic leaders, also legislative leaders.''

Boren, 42, hasn't started raising money or interviewing political consultants, but said he believes there is a ``very doable'' path for a Democrat to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, despite GOP dominance at the polls in the last several cycles in Oklahoma.

“I'm approaching this race, not based on whether or not other people in the race or whatever the political winds are, this is whether or not it's the right thing to do and also whether I could successfully govern,'' Boren said.

“Obviously we have a one-party state right now, and I think it's important in the future that we look at having a balanced, bipartisan approach to government.''

Boren served one term as a state representative before running successfully for Congress in 2004 in Oklahoma's sprawling 2nd Congressional District in eastern Oklahoma, a seat he held for eight years before stepping down.

His political connections run deep and extend across party lines. His grandfather, Lyle Boren, was a U.S. congressman and his father, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, is a former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator.

On Sunday, David Boren issued a statement saying he will encourage his son not to run for governor in 2018, saying in a statement "it is not a good idea.'"

He added that he has always had a policy of not endorsing or campaigning for any candidate for governor. Neither David Boren nor Dan Boren immediately returned messages seeking further comment.

Dan Boren's first cousin, Janna Little, is married to current House Speaker Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee.

Boren undoubtedly would face stiff competition in a race for Oklahoma's open governor's seat in 2018, which will draw interest from strong candidates on both sides of the aisle.

Potential Republican candidates include U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, State treasurer Ken Miller and Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

Other possible Democrats include ex-state Rep. Joe Dorman, who won 41 percent of the vote against Fallin in 2014 despite being heavily outspent, and House Minority Leader Scott Inman.


A Republican political strategist said that, despite Boren's political ties and reputation as a moderate, no Democrat has much of a chance in 2018 if a Democrat is elected president in 2016.

"You'd have to have a really unpopular Republican president," said GOP strategist and pollster Pat McFerron. "Realistically, if you look at the numbers, that's the only pathway I see at this point.''

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