Every person running for office at any level of government probably wonders at some point, "To what higher purpose will this path lead? Will I rise to the top and take my place among such icons as Roosevelt, Reagan, Lincoln or Kennedy, or will I stumble into infamy like a Nixon or McCarthy? Or is this just my 15 minutes of fame?"
Constituents and supporters probably entertain the same speculations about any given candidate or office-holder, and many likely ponder what's become of the leaders in whom they previously set their hopes, only to find out sometime later what became of them.
We're just like you, wondering about such things, so we took the time to identify a few former pols who were elected to high profile, influential positions over the past few years.
One person in particular who's probably piqued citizens' curiosity in recent years is Oklahoma's former Republican Gov. Frank Keating, who was once on the long list of U.S. Vice Presidential candidates and was considered to have thought of himself as presidential material.
Keating served as the state's Chief Executive Officer from 1995 to 2003, and had the Pyrrhic honor of being Oklahoma's own "Rudy Giulani," of sorts (before Giulani himself filled the niche), by leading the state through the tragedy of what was, until six years ago, the deadliest terrorist attack ever to take place on American soil: the Oklahoma City bombing.
Actually, the two men have a lot in common (no, not the wife situation.)
After completing two terms as governor and leaving office in 2003, Keating has since moved to McLean, Va. where he serves as president and CEO of the American Council of Life Insurers.
The former Sooner State governor has also written two award-winning children's books--"Teddy," about Theodore Roosevelt, and another about Will Rogers--and has another due out in late 2008--"George," about George Washington.
As Keating's literary contributions have maintained a certain presidential tone, so have rumors about his possible return to full-time public life.
In 2000, while he was still governor, Keating was under consideration to be George Bush's running mate until Dick Cheney got the gig.
Then, late last year, amid media speculation about a possible 2008 presidential run by the former governor, Keating spoke to a Republican gathering in South Carolina about the possibility, but nipped it in the bud early this year when he told a local Tulsa publication that he wasn't going to run after all.
"I love politics," Keating recently told UTW when asked about his aspirations for future office.
However, he said he's currently preoccupied with "a lot of things having to do with making a living" and is "completely captivated" by his grandkids.
One of those preoccupations, though, is a position he holds as the "CEO equivalent" of the D.C. Chamber.
His predecessors were Fred Thompson and Bob Dole.
Keating coyly noted that he's the only one to fill his current position who hasn't run for president . . . yet.
Although he's not running this time around, he has nonetheless been active in the opening bids to decide the next leader of the free world.
He's endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain as the Republican nominee and accompanied him to recent fundraisers in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and other points across the nation.
During his recent interview with UTW, he practically gushed with admiration for the war veteran and presidential hopeful.
"I was a Bush guy in 2000, but I came away enormously impressed with (McCain) after I met him in S.C. a few months ago," Keating said.
"He's a walking statue--an enormously courageous man," he added.
"I've really admired his courage and honor and sense of national destiny, and his sense of personal humility," Keating answered when asked why he so admires McCain.
"The U.S. is facing the ten most perilous years in its history," he explained, citing the threats posed by radical Islam, possible failure in Iraq, and illegal immigration, among other ills.
"I want a hero, but not someone who's going to learn the job on a crash-course," Keating added.
The former governor's unblushing reverence for McCain has led at least one reporter to ask if Keating might be a potential running mate if his hero wins the party's nomination.
"What I'd rather do is be the chairman of the committee that chooses the running mate," he quipped, recalling the current Vice President's role as chairman of the panel that passed Keating over and selected Cheney as Bush's running mate in 2000.
"Seriously, though--I'm not angling for the job," Keating said. "Let's just see if he gets the nomination."
(If he does wind up VP of the U.S., though, Keating promised a certain reporter that he'd see what he could do about arranging a few nights' accommodations in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House. That reporter isn't entirely sure if he was serious, but he plans to hold him to it regardless.)
Keating is the last Republican to reside in the Governor's Mansion of Oklahoma, but that isn't for lack of trying by other political luminaries from the Sooner State's past.
Brief, Shining Moment
District 1 Congressman, University of Tulsa-grad and NFL-stud Steve Largent was the GOP choice in 2002 to lead Oklahoma into the 21st Century by filling Keating's shoes when he termed-out of office.
To the shock of many, Largent lost the race by less than a percentage point to some dark horse Democrat and state senator by the name of Brad Henry.
While he didn't get to be Oklahoma's chief exec, Largent did get a big-time gig as CEO and president of Washington, D.C.-based CTIA-The Wireless Association.
The group is "an international nonprofit membership organization... representing all sectors of wireless communications," as described on its website.
According the receptionist at group's main office, "CTIA" used to stand for "Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association," but the organization has since dropped the acronym, preferring instead to be known simply as "The Wireless Association."
And despite the auspiciousness of that organization's connections to instant international communications, that's the only peep UTW got out of Largent's office after repeated attempts to contact him to inquire about any political aspirations he might still be harboring.
If that's any indication, a safe bet might be that the football-hero-turned-congressman has probably had his fill of politics, since political ambitions usually come with a healthy affinity for public press coverage.
Another former congressman and rival to Brad Henry who did return calls, though, has denied any further political aspirations.
"I don't have any plans to run for office--do not expect it to happen," 2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate Ernest Istook recently told UTW.
Istook stepped down as Oklahoma's Fifth District congressman last year to bid for the governor's office, but was soundly vanquished by Henry by a two-to-one margin.
Since his ill-fated gubernatorial bid, Istook's been working in Washington, D.C. with the Heritage Foundation, which he described as "the leading conservative think tank in the world."
"Unfortunately, the Republican Party has dropped the torch in recent years, but the Heritage Foundation is the keeper of the flame," he said.
He made mention of the Foundation's role in helping to establish the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), along with numerous other locally based conservative think tanks across the country.
At the time of the interview, Istook said his involvement with the group was as "a visiting fellow," but he said he was in the process of discussions to take on a more permanent role.
He's also a member of the Council for National Policy, which he said is "a conservative counterpart" to the Council on Foreign Relations.
The Council on Foreign Relations is a pivotal player in the promotion of Robert Pastor's plan for a "North American Community," as reported in the June 7-13 issue of UTW (which can be read online at www.urbantulsa.com if you missed the print version).
Istook declined to elaborate when asked what he meant in describing the CNP as a "conservative counterpart" to the CFR.
Speaking of the CFR, along with other high-profile members such as former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the aforementioned Vice President Cheney, the organization's membership also includes another mover and shaker from the Sooner State's past: former Oklahoma Congressman James R. Jones.
Jonesin' Around the Clock
The Democrat from Muskogee represented Oklahomans in Congress from 1973 to 1987.
After that, he went back to his law practice, but soon became chairman of the American Stock Exchange.
In 1993, he was appointed the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, in which capacity he served until 1997.
He also joined the Council on Foreign Relations and recently served on its Independent Task Force on the Future of North America, contributing to its final report entitled "Building a North American Community," which the CFR touted as "a roadmap to promote North American security and advance the well-being of citizens of all three countries" (once again, see the June 7th issue of UTW for the full scoop).
Today, Jones serves and CEO and/or chairman of numerous firms, boards, corporations and other organizations, including the World Affairs Councils of America.
"My principal activity is chairman and CEO of Manatt Jones Global Strategies," he told UTW.
"We are a business consulting and marketing firm whose mission is to open markets either for U.S.-based companies in foreign countries or for foreign companies who want to do business in the United States," Jones elaborated.
He said most of their work is in the western hemisphere.
The firm's headquarters is in Washington, D.C., he said, but it has offices in New York, Los Angeles, Mexico City and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
He is also founder and chairman of the Richardson, Texas-based GlobeRanger Corporation.
"This is a software company whose specialty is RFID--radio frequency identification--technology for logistics tracking and tracing of products," Jones explained.
He is also chairman of the Meridian International Center, the U.S.-Mexico Business Committee, and serves on the Kaiser Family Board of Trustees, among numerous other pursuits in both the business and non-profit worlds.
"As you can see, there is not a lot of time left," he said.
"But I spend that time with my family," he continued. "Olivia (his wife) is doing major restoration on our 1841 home on Capitol Hill in Washington as well as restoration of our home in Brookside in Tulsa."
When asked if he would ever consider returning to politics, Jones said, "I don't ever rule it out, but I have no plans to run for office and it is highly probable that I will not.
"However, I do want to make additional contributions to public service at some point in the future, but it will probably be in the area of teaching. That is one ambition that I have not yet fulfilled."
They Also Serve . . .
Closer to home, another former public official has followed in Jones' initial footsteps by resuming his law practice after leaving office.
Mayor Bill LaFortune lost his re-election bid to challenger Kathy Taylor last year and is now practicing law in Tulsa.
He is currently "of counsel" for Moyers, Martin, Santee, Imel and Tetrick law firm, he told UTW, but also has several other irons in the fire.
LaFortune just recently became general counsel for the Tulsa Housing Authority, and also serves as an administrative law judge for the state Department of Labor handling workers' compensation and wage and hour claims.
He also contracts with the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa campus.
When asked if Tulsans can expect him back into the gladiatorial ring of Oklahoma politics any time soon, LaFortune answered, "I've been really blessed and honored to have been able to serve as mayor and as district attorney, and I loved public service, but I'm completely focused on building my practice of law, but I would never write off returning to serve the public."
One of his former opponents in that ring, though, is fellow Republican Chris Medlock.
No one really needs to ask, "Whatever happened to that guy?" about Medlock, since he's as much in the public eye today as he was during his time in office.
In fact, he is the public eye.
He stepped down as Tulsa's District 2 city councilor to challenge LaFortune's position as the city's chief exec last year, but like most who challenge an incumbent from within the same party, he lost.
Next, he turned his campaign energies to filling the vacancy left by term-limited state Rep. Fred Perry, representing Tulsa's House District 69.
(Perry is now Tulsa County's District 3 commissioner.)
However, Medlock lost the primary election to dark horse Marine Corps veteran Fred Jordan (dress blues are hard to upstage, esp. during wartime).
Instead of the Mayor's office or a spot as a state rep, destiny had something else in store for Medlock: a coveted position in the much-cooler Fourth Branch of Government.
With the departure of Chris DelGiorno, Medlock became co-host of KFAQ's morning talk show, where he can be heard every weekday morning covering the activities of many of the aforementioned political luminaries, among other various and sundry topics.
He's also the Republican Party's state committeeman and president of the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly.
Medlock told UTW that he doesn't plan on running for office again any time soon.
"I'm still in politics, but there are elected positions and unelected positions," he said.
Same Passion, Different Avenues
Medlock's fellow former City Councilman Jim Mautino is also "still in politics," but also not in an elected capacity.
Readers likely remember the recall vote petitioners were able to bring about against Medlock and Mautino in the summer of 2005.
They each retained their seats in the recall election, but Mautino lost re-election last year to represent District 6.
He told UTW, though, that he's still active in his neighborhood association and he still attends City Council and County Commission meetings in an effort to add his voice, as a citizen, to the governing process.
And those aren't the only things about Jim Mautino that haven't changed.
"I'm still frustrated and chomping at the bit and still upset about what's going on in Tulsa right now," he said.
In explanation, he said, "The Council really doesn't pay attention, or part of the Council doesn't pay attention--they allow you to speak, but they don't listen."
Mautino said the city's current leaders aren't doing enough to get retail sales tax up, which is the lifeblood of city services.
Specifically, he took umbrage with plans to turn the Eastland Mall into a call center, among other decisions he disputes.
"When you have a retail center like the Eastland Mall and turn it into a call center, that's great that it provides 300-or-so jobs, but Tulsa lives on retail sales tax," Mautino said.
So, will he saddle up again and try for another term on the Council?
Not likely, he said.
"I still have the desire, but when you take someone my age--the stress that was put on my family during those two years...," said the 75-year-old.
Mautino said he did what he could to make things happen during his stint on the Council, but is now content to offer his voice as a citizen.
Like many of the figures Tulsans have chosen in the past to champion them at City Hall, the state Capitol or Washington, D.C., Mautino and others might have faded from the spotlight after leaving public office, but that doesn't mean they're willing to fade away into irrelevance.
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