The third quarter of 2017 was a good one for several Republicans hoping to secure their party’s nomination to try to take residence in the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion when Mary Fallin finishes her second term.

The third quarter of 2017 was a good one for several Republicans hoping to secure their party’s nomination to try to take residence in the Oklahoma Governor’s Mansion when Mary Fallin finishes her second term.

It wasn't as good for the Democrats as the Minority Leader in the State House of Representatives and gubernatorial candidate Scott Inman got caught up in a family emergency and had to drop out of the race.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett announced Friday that he has raised $900,000 total with $620,000 of that coming in the third quarter alone.

Lt. Governor Todd Lamb – not to be outdone – raised $625,000 in the third quarter to bring his war chest to more than $2.5 million total.

Gary Richardson first ran for Governor in 2002. He has done pretty well in fundraising too - and his was a lot harder.

During a visit to the Shawnee News-Star this week, Richardson said he and his wife decided to put $250,000 of their own money into the campaign when he first threw his hat into the ring for 2018. Once he felt the wind filling his sails and momentum of the campaign growing he knew he had a chance to win. Richardson knew that it would take money to win the race and watching all of the special interest groups disrupting the legislative process at the State Capital, he had no interest in running around with his hand out to oil companies or other groups who expect something back from a campaign donation.

So he went to his biggest supporter and asked her thoughts. After some consideration, they decided to invest $750,000 more to make bring his campaign over the $1 million mark.

Richardson reminded me a lot of a high school football coach who took over the Chickasha program when I was the editor of the newspaper there. The team hadn't enjoyed a lot of success in recent years. But when my sports editor asked the new coach what he expected the team's record to be this year, the coach said he expected to go undefeated. After all, they didn't work this hard and spend all of this time in preparation for losses.

Richardson has a similar mindset and he believes he will be successful for a similar reason.

"I believe we are going to win," the Tulsa-based attorney said. "I think there will be a runoff but I expect to win."

Richardson also expects to have success even with the current legislature that has struggled to govern because they begin each year with huge budget holes and end each year using one-time money to fill them with shrinking sources of recurring revenue that would offer a more stable budget.

Richardson said, like the high school football team with the same players that improved under better leadership, he thinks he could pilot the current legislature to handle state government better.

He wouldn't answer the question of what he would do in the current Special Session because he refuses to believe a state government he led would end up in this dire condition.

He was quick to say he doesn't support tax increases. He is convinced the problem is in spending and he didn't back off of that even when asked if he really believed there was $500 million in waste and corruption in state government. 

He pointed at audits in small towns like Mannsville and Harsthorne and how big the waste and corruption numbers appear to be there. At scale, he sees the opportunity to root out enough money to fund state services without additional revenue.

I have a hard time believing that but Richardson sees it as a fact instead of a theory.

One area where I had no problem agreeing with Richardson is the belief that Oklahoma has too many turnpikes and most if not all of them are basically scams perpetrated by the state on its citizens.

Richardson's campaign workers even wear hats similar to President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" caps that say "Make Turnpikes Free Roads Again."

I grew up in Chickasha. We got charged a toll for leaving our driveways. When the turnpike went in, it was to have a cost but after the road was paid for, that cost would drop to a reasonable maintenance rate. Guess what, that wasn't true in any sense. The cost of driving on turnpikes constantly increases. 

Chickasha families get to pay a toll to drive to Oklahoma City. They pay to drive to Lawton. Now you can pay to drive to Norman, too. Don't get me started on driving to Tulsa.

Richardson said turnpikes also drive down property values and hurt the towns they bypass. He also claimed governors have an annuity waiting on them after their terms end and the value of those annuities are commensurate with how pleased supporters of turnpikes are with their performance.

Richardson even has a passage from a book critical of the turnpike system saved on his phone and he will read it to you if the topic comes up. 

There is also a link a study from 1995 on his website that he says supports his beliefs about the system of toll roads that have spread across the state like a spider's web in the corner of a barn.

Richardson is a former U.S. Attorney appointed to the position by Ronald Reagan. He made several tough decisions in that job and he said he would have no trouble doing the same as Governor. 

In fact, Richardson was on the side of the Sierra Club - another strange bedfellow made by politics - in the fight against the state's new electric car fees. The Supreme Court ruled this week that those taxes were unconstitutional and Richardson celebrated the ruling as a win.

Richardson is basically self-funding a campaign and criss-crossing the state trying to win votes. His conservative outlook and unique style will no doubt win over some voters.

We won't find out until next June if he is right about just how much success he will have in this race.