- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 25, 2017

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma House Democratic leader Scott Inman announced Wednesday he is dropping out of the governor’s race and plans to resign from his House seat early next year, citing the strain of the campaign on his personal life.

“The stresses and strains of my career, the time away from my family, and the choice to wrongly prioritize my life’s decisions have brought me to this moment,” the Oklahoma City attorney said in a statement. “I can no longer ask my wife and children to sacrifice for me. It is time for me to reprioritize what is important in this world.”

Inman, a married father of two young daughters, did not immediately respond to phone and text messages seeking comment.

His decision to drop out of the governor’s race leaves former Attorney General Drew Edmondson and former state Sen. Connie Johnson as the two front-runners in the Democratic primary.

In his statement, 39-year-old Inman said he will vacate his House seat before his term ends in November 2018. Inman was term-limited and couldn’t seek another stint in the Legislature.

His announcement came just as House members in a special session were considering a key vote on a plan to plug a $215 million hole in the budget through a combination of tax increases on cigarettes, motor fuel and alcohol. Democrats, whose votes are needed to pass any tax increases, have been united in opposition to the plan, holding out for an increase in the production tax on oil and natural gas. The measure failed 54-44, falling short of the 76 votes needed for approval.

Inman was first elected to the House in 2006 and became Democratic leader in 2009. At the time he was the youngest person to lead a caucus in Oklahoma history.

A fiery orator who frequently and passionately debates on behalf of Oklahoma’s working class, Inman has consistently rankled Republican leaders. He effectively held his caucus votes together to try and negotiate a better position for Democrats, whose votes were needed this session for any tax increases.

House Democrats already had selected Rep. Steve Kouplen to take over for Inman next year, so the Beggs rancher would likely assume the minority leader’s position next year if Inman follows through on his plans to resign.

Inman would be the fourth House member to resign from office since the November elections. A fifth member from Tulsa died in April. Three state senators also have resigned this year amid criminal charges. A fourth has announced plans to step down in January.

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Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy

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